Researchers Have Found The Least Earth-Like Earth-Like Planet Yet

07.19.11 7 years ago

Ever since astronomers have been able to detect other planets across the galaxy, they’ve been looking for other planets that could support Earth-style life. (Not just because of the scientific ramifications of possibly finding extraterrestrial life…Earth-like planets are just way less boring.) So far they’ve found a couple possible candidates with exciting names like Gliese 4581 g, GJ 1214 b and HD 28185. And now they’ve found one more, 55 Cancri f, which is probably the least like Earth of the Earth-like planets found so far.

Well, in truth, they didn’t just find it, as the presence of 55 Cancri f was first calculated in 2005 based observations of its binary stars. But now, researchers at the California Institute of Technology have been able to accurately measure the orbit of 55 Cancri f and have announced that it’s definitely a candidate to support liquid water. It also definitely falls into the “habitable zone” where a planet could support Earth-like life (although it only stays in that zone for 74 percent of its year).

It’s believed that 55 Cancri f is a gaseous planet, mainly because of its large, Neptune-like size, which is 3.9 times as big as Earth. What also sets this planet apart from other exo-Earths is that 55 Cancri is a binary star system boasting an orange dwarf star and a red dwarf star. It’s believed that both stars are visible during the day, while the night features the red dwarf in the sky for half the year, then nothing but stars for the other half.

So if you’re looking for a planet with beautiful sci-fi-movie-style double sunsets, 55 Cancri f is the planet for you.

[Technology Review]

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