Another nearby planet found that may be just right for life
Astronomers have found yet another planet that seems to have just the right Goldilocks combination for life: Not so hot and not so cold. It's not so far away, either.
This new, big, dense planet is rocky, like Earth, and has the right temperatures for water, putting it in the habitable zone for life, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature .
It's the fifth such life-possible planet outside our solar system revealed in less than a year, but still relatively nearby Earth. Rocky planets within that habitable zone of a star are considered the best place to find evidence of some form of life.
"It is astonishing to live in a time when discovery of potentially habitable worlds is not only commonplace but proliferating," said MIT astronomer Sara Seager, who wasn't part of the study.
The first planet outside our solar system was discovered in 1995, but thanks to new techniques and especially NASA's planet-hunting Kepler telescope, the number of them has exploded in recent years. Astronomers have now identified 52 potentially habitable planets and more than 3,600 planets outside our solar system.
The latest discovery, called LHS 1140b, regularly passes in front of its star, allowing astronomers to measure its size and mass. That makes astronomers more confident that this one is rocky, compared to other recent discoveries.
In the next several years, new telescopes should be able to use the planet's path to spy its atmosphere in what could be the best-aimed search for signs of life, said Harvard astronomer David Charbonneau, a co-author of the study. If scientists see both oxygen and some carbon in an atmosphere, that's a promising sign that something could be living.
Outside astronomers have already put this new planet near the top of their must-see lists for new ground and space-based telescopes.
"This is the first one where we actually know it's rocky," Charbonneau said. "We found a planet that we can actually study that might be actually Earth-like."
Make that super-sized, because it belongs to a class of planets called super-Earths that are more massive than Earth but not quite the size of giants Neptune or Jupiter.
Compared to Earth, the new planet is big, pushing near the size limit for rocky planets. It's 40 percent wider than Earth but it has 6.6 times Earth's mass, giving it a gravitational pull three times stronger, Charbonneau said. A person weighing 167 pounds would feel like 500 pounds on this planet.
While many super-Earths are too big to have the right environment for life, 1140b is just small enough to make it a good candidate. Thirty-two of the potentially habitable planets found so far are considered super-Earth sized.
The new planet was found using eight small telescopes in Chile and help from an amateur planet-hunter, Charbonneau said.
In the constellation Cetus, it is 39 light years or 230 trillion miles away. So are a group of seven mostly Earth-sized planets in or near the habitable zone found circling a star called Trappist-1 earlier this year, but it in a different direction. And in August, astronomers found that the nearest planet to Earth outside our solar system, only 25 trillion miles away, also could have the right temperature for life, but astronomers can't get a peek at its atmosphere.
"If you picture the Milky Way as the size of the United States, then these systems are all within the size of Central Park," Charbonneau said. "These are your neighbors."
The latest discoveries have their founders at odds over which of the planets are the most promising. Charbonneau said recent studies show that the Trappist planets may not be rocky like Earth, while Trappist discoverer Michael Gillon said the newest planet has such intense gravity that its atmosphere may be smooshed down so telescopes can't get a good look at it.
Seven outside astronomers said the Milky Way is big enough for all the discoveries to be exciting, requiring more exploring.
Yale astronomer Greg Laughlin, who wasn't part of any of the teams, praised all the new findings but said the Trappist planets seem too light and the new one too dense for his taste: "I wouldn't book a trip to any of these planets."
Engaging with natural environment found contributing to life satisfaction
"Eleven of the 13 (metrics) had a positive correlation to overall life satisfaction," said Biedenweg, a social scientist who studies both how humans benefit from the natural environment and the impact human actions have on it. "The links between ecological conditions, like drinking water and air quality, and objective well-being have been studied quite a bit, but the connection between various aspects of engaging the natural environment and overall subjective well-being have rarely been looked at."
Sita aircraft makes emergency landing due to adverse climate
An aircraft of Sita Airlines made a safe landing with no any injuries but minor damage to it. The 9 NHR Lukla bound aircraft from Kathmandu made an emergency landing at Phaplu airport due to adverse climate.
One killed, two injured in Palpa road accident
A youth was killed in a road accident Sunday morning at Katadi of the district, police said. The deceased is jeep owner Dan Bahadur Gaha, 24, of Phalung of Rabdikot Rural Municipality-7. The accident took place when the jeep (Lu 1 Ja 1581) heading to Tansen from Pipaldanda met with the accident at the place.
Premature hippo a happy hit for Ohio zoo after gorilla death
A prematurely born hippo in Ohio has been providing regular doses of happiness for animal lovers, in a show of public affection that's also given an emotional lift to Cincinnati Zoo workers. After months of backlash over the zoo's fatal shooting of Harambe, a gorilla who became a pop culture phenomenon in death, baby Fiona is the new center of attention there.
Two killed while fishing in Rapti River
Two youths drowned while fishing in the Rapti River at the Manhari Village Council-8 of Makawanpur on Saturday. The deceased have been identified as Sitaram BK and Tula Bahadur Pakhrin of Manhari-7, police said. It took almost three and a half hours to retrieve their bodies.
Challenges for reconstruction
One of the major challenges faced in the reconstruction process of Nepal is the absence of elected local government. Lack of government in local level was reflected in the major pre-disaster and post-disaster events, where it took months to reach the affected region and still no widely-accepted data is available. In the absence of an elected local government, top-down approach of governance has its own accountability deficit.
Apil KC/Keshab Sharma
Making sense of Adityanath's rise in Modi's India
The most notorious incitement of communal hatred by Adityanath was his exhortation to 'kill ten woh log ['them' meaning Muslims]' rather than knocking the doors of legal system 'if one Hindu is killed' in riots.
Identity and nationhood
Whoever says nationhood is not important would be lying. For example, belonging to a particular nation may give certain advantages to a person that one belonging to another nation would not get.
The shankha blower from Bichour
Coincidentally, Ram Lal Joshi, the Radio Nepal singer had his house adjacent to ours and had been hearing him blow it every day. Hari worked as a bagainche in Singha-durbar during day. Ram Lal got him to blow the shankha as a part of musical instrument for Radio Nepal’s iconic signature tune.
Traffic Police in Kathmandu
As busy and hassling as the traffic system in Kathmandu is, the Traffic Police here have to handle an equally strenuous job. Over 1,400 traffic officers in and around the Kathmandu Valley battle against the pestering traffic and air pollution each day.
Menstrual taboo outdated
I have seen my sisters and friends isolated and treated in discriminatory manner during their first menstruation cycle. They were not allowed to look at the sun, to touch water source, flower, fruits, any male family member, nor even hear their voice. The activist may claim the situation has changed and I do agree but still during every month my loved ones turns into untouchables beings.