Scientists Discover A Hot 'Super-Earth' And 60 More Planets; Increasing Chances Of Finding Life

First Posted: Feb 14, 2017 08:46 AM EST

The chances of finding another Earth-like planet has just gone up. A team of international astronomers has discovered 60 more full exoplanets that are close to the Solar System.

According to The Independent report, one of the newly discovered exoplanets is a hot super-Earth, which has a rocky system and is located in the fourth closest star system to planet Earth. Called Gliese 411-b, the exoplanet could suggest that all the stars close to the Sun have orbiting planets, some of which could be like Earth and have conditions for sustaining alien life. The results are based on almost 61,000 individual observations made by the U.S. astronomers over a period of 20 years of 1,600 stars, with the help of Hawaii’s Keck-I telescope.

The discovery was made with the help of a technique called the radial velocity method that takes advantage of the fact that the gravity of a planet also affects a star. Subsequently, researchers are able to use sophisticated tools to look out for the tiny wobble induced by the planet as its gravity pulls at the star.

"It is fascinating to think that when we look at the nearest stars, all of them appear to have planets orbiting them, something astronomers were not convinced about, even as little as five years ago,” researcher Mikko Tuomi said. “These new planets also help us better understand the formation processes of planetary systems and provide interesting targets for future efforts to image the planets directly."

Incidentally, 3,450 exoplanets have been confirmed to date. Around two-thirds of which were discovered by the Kepler mission. This is definitely not the end of new planets’ detection and the discoveries will keep rolling in the future.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia mission that was launched in 2013 is expected to discover scores of more alien worlds before coming to an end. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey satellite (TESS), which is scheduled to be launched in early 2018, will also add to the total number of discovered exoplanets.

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