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Scientists discovered a copy of our Earth and the Sun three thousand light years away

The Kepler-160 star and its satellite KOI-456.04 are more reminiscent of the Sun-Earth system than any previously known exoplanet star pair.

The Kepler-160 star probably has an orbit on a planet that is almost twice the size of Earth. The distance from the star to the planet allows you to allow the temperature of the surface of the planet, contributing to the development of life. Recently discovered by a group of scientists led by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of the Solar System (MPS) in Göttingen (Germany), the exoplanet is more than just a potentially inhabited world.

One of the key properties that makes this world look more like the Sun-Earth system than any other previously known world is its star, similar to the Sun. Most of the exoplanets known so far similar to the Earth are found in orbit around faint stars – red dwarfs that emit their energy mainly in the form of infrared radiation, and not visible light. However, the light emitted by a star like the Sun is very similar to daylight on our home planet. Moreover, the KOI-456.04 orbital period around the star is almost identical to the Earth year.

Space telescopes such as CoRoT, Kepler, and TESS have allowed scientists to discover about 4,000 extra-solar planets (planets around distant stars) over the past 14 years. Most of these planets are the size of the gas giant Neptune, about four times the size of the Earth, which are in relatively close orbits around their host stars.

Scientists have also discovered several small exoplanets, like Earth, which could potentially be rocky. A handful of these small planets are also at the right distance from their stars to potentially have moderate surface temperatures for the presence of liquid surface water – the main ingredient of life on Earth.

“The full picture of planet habitability also includes a glimpse of the quality of a star,” explains Dr. Rene Heller, MPS scientist and lead author of the new study. 

Until now, almost all exoplanets are twice as large as the Earth, which can potentially have a mild surface temperature, are in orbit around red dwarfs.

Red dwarfs are known for their extremely long life. Life on an exoplanet in orbit around an old red dwarf can potentially last twice as long as life on Earth – for formation and development. But the radiation from the red dwarf star is mostly infrared, and not visible light, as we know it.

Many red dwarfs are also known for emitting high-energy flares and frying their planets, which subsequently become unsuitable for habitation.

Moreover, their weakness requires that any inhabited planet be so close to the star that stellar gravity begins to significantly deform the planet. As a result of tidal heating on the planet, deadly global volcanism can occur. The habitability of the planets around red dwarfs is widely discussed in the scientific community.

In a new research article, a group of scientists from MPS, the Sonneberg Observatory, the University of Gottingen, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and NASA announced the discovery of a candidate for a planet that is twice the size of the Earth and with moderate light from a solar star.

The star Kepler-160 is located at a distance of just over 3000 light years from the solar system. She was constantly in sight of the main mission of the Kepler telescope and was constantly observed from 2009 to 2013. Its radius is 1.1 of the radius of the Sun, and the surface temperature is 5200 degrees Celsius (300 degrees less than that of the Sun). It has a star-like luminosity very similar to the Sun, making it an astrophysical photograph of our own star.

The Kepler-160 star is known to be the host star of two exoplanets called Kepler-160b and Kepler-160c. Both of these planets are much larger than the Earth and are in relatively close orbits around their star.

Their surface temperature certainly makes them hotter than a baking oven. But the tiny changes in the orbital period of the planet Kepler-160c gave scientists hope for the discovery of a third planet.

A team of German and American scientists returned to archival data from the Kepler telescope to find additional planets around this star and check the planetary origin of the Kepler-160c orbit. Heller and his colleagues previously successfully discovered 18 forgotten exoplanets according to old Kepler data.

When searching for exoplanets, scientists usually look for repeated changes in the brightness of stars. These temporary blackouts, usually only one percent or less of the apparent brightness of the stars, can be caused by the fact that the planets pass through the disks of their stars – when viewed from Earth.

Their new search algorithm was critical to discovering a new candidate for the transit planet KOI-456.04. “Our analysis shows that Kepler-160 has not two, but four planets,” Heller summarizes the new study.

One of the two planets found by Heller and his colleagues is Kepler-160d, the previously suspected planet responsible for the distorted orbit of Kepler-160s. Kepler-160d does not show any transitions on the star’s light curve, and this was confirmed indirectly.

Another planet, formally a candidate for the planet, is KOI-456.04, probably a transit planet with a radius of 1.9 Earth radius and a period of 378 days. Considering its sun-like star, the orbital period very similar to the Earth, the distance from the star very similar to the Earth – both in terms of the amount of light received and in terms of the color of light.

The light from Kepler-160 is visible light, very similar to sunlight. Given all this, the planet KOI-456.04 is located in the habitable zone of the star – a range of distances around the star that allows the presence of liquid water on the surface.

“KOI-456.01 is relatively large compared to many other planets that are considered potentially habitable. But it is the combination of this planetary size and a solar-type host star that makes it so special and familiar, ”Heller explains.

As a result, the surface conditions on KOI-456.04 can be similar to those known on Earth, provided that its atmosphere is not too massive and similar to the Earth. The amount of light received from the host star is about 93 percent of the sunlight received by the Earth. If KOI-456.04 has a mostly inert atmosphere with a soft, Earth-like greenhouse effect, then its surface temperature will be on average +5 degrees Celsius, which is about ten degrees below the average global temperature of the Earth.

At present, it cannot be completely ruled out that KOI-456.04 is actually a statistical randomness or systematic measurement error instead of a real planet. The team estimates the chances of having the planet KOI-456.04 at 85%, and 99% is required to obtain the official status of the planet.

While some of the Earth’s most powerful ground-based telescopes could confirm this candidate with observations during one of his upcoming transits, there is also hope that the future PLATO (ESA) space mission will be able to do this. It is planned that PLATO will be launched in 2026, and one of its main scientific goals is the discovery of planets the size of the Earth around stars similar to the Sun.

MPS is currently building a PLATO data center and is actively participating in the PLATO mission. If PLATO is oriented in such a way as to revise the data of the main Kepler mission, then KOI-456.04 will be able to become a confirmed planet and be studied by PLATO in more detail.

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Space

An inconceivably ancient cosmic object was discovered

An international group of astronomers from the United States, Germany, China and Chile reported the discovery of a largest quasar called Poniua’ena, which in Hawaiian means “an invisible rotating source of creation surrounded by radiance.”

The object is located at a distance of about 30 billion light years, which corresponds to the age of the Universe at 710 million years. A preprint of the article, which will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, is available on the arxiv website.

The light from the quasar J1007 + 2115 flew 13 billion years, however, due to the accelerated expansion of the Universe, its redshift is z = 7.515, which corresponds to the actual distance to it, equal to 29.3 billion light years. Astronomers see the object as it was in the era of reionization, when the first stars appeared, ionizing hydrogen atoms with their light.

Poniua’ena contains a supermassive black hole whose mass reaches 1.5 billion solar masses, making the quasar the largest object in the early Universe. According to Jinyi Yang, lead author of the work from the University of Arizona, this is the earliest object of such a monstrous size known to scientists.

Its existence poses a problem for theoretical models of the formation of supermassive black holes, according to which, J1007 + 2115 simply would not have time to grow in 710 million years if it had originally arisen as a result of the collapse of the star.

Instead, astronomers believe, a hundred million years after the Big Bang, there was already a black hole with a mass of 10 thousand Suns, which was formed as a result of direct gravitational collapse of clouds of cold hydrogen gas.

Poniua’ena is currently the second oldest quasar found to date. In 2018, the quasar J1342 + 0928 was discovered, which is two million years older than J1007 + 2115, but at the same time half as massive.

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Wormholes. To anywhere in the universe in a minute

Wormholes or tunnels in the fabric of spacetime are terribly unstable. As soon as at least one photon hits them, the wormhole closes instantly. A new study suggests that the secret to a stable wormhole is in their form.

Wormholes, if they exist, will allow us to travel from point A to some extremely distant point B without worrying about travel time. The transition would be incredibly fast. Real cheat code of the universe. See a star for millions of light years? You could reach it in just a few minutes if you had a wormhole leading to it. No wonder this is a very popular science fiction theme.

But wormholes are not just a figment of our imagination, created to carve out all the boring scenes of interstellar travel (and this is centuries and millennia). We learned about them through Einstein’s general theory of relativity: matter and energy bend and deform the fabric of space-time, the curvature of which tells matter how to move.

Therefore, when it comes to wormholes, you just need to ask yourself: is it possible to deform space-time so that it overlaps itself, forming a tunnel between two distant points? The answer was given in the 1970s – yes.

Wormholes are entirely possible and not forbidden by the general theory of relativity. But the wormholes are very unstable, because, in essence, they consist of two black holes in contact with each other and forming a tunnel. That is, we are talking about points of infinite density, surrounded by areas known as the event horizon – one-sided space barriers. If you cross the event horizon of a black hole, you will never go back.

To solve this problem, the entrance to the wormhole must be outside the event horizon. Thus, you can cross the wormhole without touching the barrier. But as soon as you enter a wormhole located between huge masses, the gravity of your presence will distort the wormhole tunnel, collapsing it. Slammed shut, the tunnel will leave two lonely black holes, separated by a space in which the remains of your body will hang.

But it turns out there is a way to place the entrance to the wormhole away from the event horizon and make the tunnel stable enough for you to get through it. For this, material with a negative mass is needed. This is an ordinary mass, but with a minus sign. And if you put together enough negative mass in one place, you could use it to keep the wormhole open.

As far as we know, a substance with a negative mass does not exist. In any case, there is no evidence that it exists. Moreover, if it were, it would violate many laws of the Universe, such as inertia and conservation of momentum. For example, if you kicked a ball with a negative mass, it would fly backward. If you place an object with a negative mass next to an object with a positive mass, they will not be attracted. On the contrary, objects will repel each other, instantly accelerating.

Since negative mass seems like a myth, it can be assumed that wormholes are unlikely to exist in the universe. But the idea of ​​wormholes is based on the mathematics of the general theory of relativity – our current understanding of how gravity works. More precisely, our current, incomplete understanding of how gravity works.

We know that the general theory of relativity does not describe all the gravitational interactions in the universe. She gives in to strong gravity with a small body size. For example, before the bowels of black holes. To solve this problem, we need to turn to the quantum theory of gravity, which would combine our understanding of the world of subatomic particles with our broader understanding of gravity. But every time scientists try to put it together, everything just falls apart.

However, we have some clues on how quantum gravity can work, and we can understand wormholes. It is possible that a new and improved understanding of gravity will show that we do not need negative mass matter at all, and that stable, passable wormholes are real. A couple of theoreticians from Tehran University in Iran have published a new study of wormholes.

They applied some methods that allowed them to understand how quantum mechanics can change the standard general picture of relativity. Scientists have found that passable wormholes can exist without a substance with negative mass, but only if the entrance does not represent an ideal sphere, but is slightly elongated.

The results are interesting, but there is one snag. These hypothetical passable wormholes are tiny. Very tiny. Wormholes will be only 30% longer than Planck’s length – 1.6 x 10 ^ 35 meters. The traveler should be the same size. Yes, in addition, this microscopic traveler should fly at almost the speed of light. Despite emerging problems, the study opens a small crack, so to speak, for a look at the existence of wormholes, which can be expanded in the course of further research.

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Scientists believe that Europa’s underground ocean is habitable: The secrets that Jupiter’s satellite hides

K. Retherford/Southwest Research Institute

The dream of Mankind is the existence of celestial bodies that can host life, initially in our own solar system as the Earth is considered that in the near future will not be able to sustain the growing population.

Scientists claim that Europa, the satellite of the planet Jupiter, has the necessary conditions for the development of life and characterize the large ocean’s underground ocean as “potentially habitable”.

When we say life development we mean organisms that are based on the “function” of carbon biochemistry.

This theory has been developed for several years and Europa, along with the planet Mars, is considered to be the two celestial bodies to which humanity could “escape”.

It is worth adding that the delicate atmosphere of Europa consists mainly of … oxygen!

Of course, living conditions will not be the same as on Earth, but they are considered to be “tolerable” for a start.

According to scientific observations, this vast expanse of water may have been able to develop and support the growth of microbes in the past, perhaps even in the present period.

Europa, with an ocean hidden beneath a thick ice shell that surrounds its surface, has long been considered a possible habitat for extraterrestrial life in our solar system, along with other candidates such as Mars and Saturn’s moon, Egelados. A new study presented Wednesday at a geo-scientific conference underscores Europa’s potential to develop life, even at the microbial level.

“We believe that the ocean of Europa may have been habitable early on when it was formed, because our models show that the composition of the ocean may have been only slightly acidic, containing carbon dioxide and some sulfates,” Mohit Melwani Daswani said, the planetary scientist and head of the study of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“The availability of liquid water is the first step towards sustainability. In addition, the exchange of chemicals between the ocean and the rocky interior may have been significant in the past, so the potential life may have been able to use chemical energy to survive, “  he added.

Daswani said the germs resemble some of the Earth’s bacteria that use carbon dioxide for energy and could have survived using ingredients available in Europa’s early oceans.

Europa is slightly smaller than the Earth’s moon. The ocean of Europa, with a possible depth of 65 to 160 km, may contain twice as much water as the Earth’s oceans!

The study assessed whether Europa was previously habitable and did not examine its current inhabitability, a question that researchers are investigating by examining all the data collected from space missions and observations from telescopes.

According to many, in order for Humanity to be able to diffuse into space (the so-called scattering), it needs to create bases in its own solar system.

Most likely, terrafoming (geoengineering) methods will be used to completely change any “compatible” celestial bodies. A process that can take centuries.

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