In Case of End of the World, New Earth-like Exoplanet Discovered
By: Linda Poon
Before our imagination of how the world will end becomes reality and sends people all across the globe into panic mode, astronomers have already begun looking at other planets in hopes of finding Earthlings a new place to call home.
While the Curiosity Rover is busy examining Mars, others are looking at a newly discovered exoplanet that orbit its parent star, HD 40307, at almost the same distant that Earth orbits the sun. At 56 million miles away from the parent star in the constellation Pictor, the exoplanet, located 45 light-years away from our own planet, is in just the right spot for liquid water to exist.
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With a mass that's seven times Earth's and an orbit that takes roughly 200 days to complete, the exoplanet joins six other planets that could potentially be habitable.This one's a little colder than Earth and is significantly smaller in terms of surface area, but what makes this planet stand out is its day-night cycle that is similar to Earth's. That means that unlike some other exoplanets, one side isn't constantly basking in the heat while the other side is stuck in freezing temperatures.
So as soon as we figure out this whole commercial space travel business, we may be visiting more than just the moon. While this exoplanet is unique in its similarities to Earth, check out these other planetary discoveries that have us both amazed and perplexed.
The Diamond Planet
Having a handful of diamonds is already beyond most people’s wildest dreams. So imagine standing on top of a diamond-filled planet – one that’s twice the size of Earth and eight times in mass, of which one-third is made of pure diamond.
Unlike our Earth, whose surface is made up of mostly granite and water, astronomers recently discovered that the surface of 55 Cancri e is mostly diamond and graphite. According to a Forbes article, that’s worth $26.9 nonillion (that’s 30 zeros), or 384 quadrillion times more than Earth’s GDP.
The Zombie Planet
Halloween may be over, but that doesn’t make new evidence of the “Zombie” Fomalhaut b planet any less spooky. Discovered in 2008 orbiting the nearby Fomalhaut star, it was claimed as the first exoplanet directly observed in visible light. But when astronomers failed to detect any heat from Fomalhaut b, they thought of it as no more than a short-lived dust cloud.
Just as zombies rise from the dead, a closer look at Hubble images taken in 2004 and 2006 revived Fomalhaut b to its planetary status after affirming that it was actually a “massive planet” that may also be a rare type of exoplanet.
The Star Wars-like Planet
Before two amateur scientists discovered “PH1,” a planet orbiting four stars simultaneously, the very idea of anything like it existed only in the popular science fiction series, Star Wars. But a planet similar to Tatooine, famously known as Luke Skywalker’s home with two setting suns, is more than just a made-up planet ruled by Jabba the Hut.
The circumbinary exoplanet exists in a binary star system where it orbits around a double star that acts very similar to the sun in our solar system. In addition, rotating around the entire system is another pair of stars, which is why a person hypothetically standing on PH1 will see not only two setting suns but also two very bright star shining far away.
The Lava Planet
The Alpha Centauri B might not be a vacation hot-spot, but a planet entirely in molten lava is always a sight. It's said that despite the harsh environment, it is possible for overheated Alpha Centauri B to hold a kind of unique alien life form to live in this kind of condition.
You would think no life form could survive that kind of environment, but that may not necessarily be true.