Astronomers Discover 'Class M' Planet - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government // Enterprise Architecture

Astronomers Discover 'Class M' Planet

Breakthrough suggests the Milky Way may be "teeming" with potentially habitable bodies.

Researchers have discovered a planet they believe is capable of supporting humanoid-like life.

The celestial body, known as GJ 581g, has a climate that's not too dissimilar from that found on Earth, according to scientists at the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey.

"The estimated equilibrium temperature of GJ 581g, is 228 K, placing it squarely in the middle of the habitable zone of the star and offering a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet around a very nearby star," the researchers said in a paper submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.

"That a system harboring a potentially habitable planet has been found this nearby, and this soon in the relatively early history of RV [Radial Velocities] indicates that eta-Earth, the fraction of stars with potentially habitable planets, is likely to be substantial," the astronomers said.

Radial velocity measures the speed at which an object is moving toward or away from the observer. Scientists use the measurement to detect planets based on the gravitational pull of the stars around which they orbit.

GJ 581g is "a minimum mass 3.1 M_Earth planet orbiting at .146 AU with a period of 36.6 days," said the scientists from Lick-Carnegie.

"This detection, coupled with statistics of the incompleteness of present-day precision RV surveys for volume limited samples of stars in the immediate solar neighborhood suggests that eta_Earth could well be on the order of a few tens of percent," said the team.

"If the local stellar neighborhood is a representative sample of the galaxy as a whole, our Milky Way could be teeming with potentially habitable planets," the said.

The term "Class M" was coined by Star Trek creatory Gene Roddenberry, who used it to describe planets that had Earth-like temperatures and atmospheres in the fictional TV series.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
IT Careers: 12 Job Skills in Demand for 2020
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/1/2019
Commentary
Enterprise Guide to Multi-Cloud Adoption
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  9/27/2019
Commentary
5 Ways CIOs Can Better Compete to Recruit Top Tech Talent
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  10/2/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Data Science and AI in the Fast Lane
This IT Trend Report will help you gain insight into how quickly and dramatically data science is influencing how enterprises are managed and where they will derive business success. Read the report today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll