“These planets are unlike anything in our solar system. They have endless oceans,” said lead author Lisa Kaltenegger of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and the CfA. “There may be life there, but could it be technology-based like ours? Life on these worlds would be under water with no easy access to metals, to electricity, or fire for metallurgy. Nonetheless, these worlds will still be beautiful, blue planets circling an orange star — and maybe life’s inventiveness to get to a technology stage will surprise us.”
They were found by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which detects planets that transit, or cross the face of, their host star. Measuring a transit tells astronomers the size of the planet relative to its star.
Kepler-62e is 60 percent larger than Earth, while Kepler-62f is about 40 percent larger, making both of them “super-Earths.” They are too small for their masses to be measured, but astronomers expect them to be composed of rock and water, without a significant gaseous envelope.
As the warmer of the two worlds, Kepler-62e would have a bit more clouds than Earth, according to computer models. More distant Kepler-62f would need the greenhouse effect from plenty of carbon dioxide to warm it enough to host an ocean. Otherwise, it might become an ice-covered snowball.
“Kepler-62e probably has a very cloudy sky and is warm and humid all the way to the polar regions. Kepler-62f would be cooler, but still potentially life-friendly,” said Harvard astronomer and co-author Dimitar Sasselov.
“The good news is — the two would exhibit distinctly different colors and make our search for signatures of life easier on such planets in the near future,” he added.
The discovery raises the intriguing possibility that some star in our galaxy might be circled by two Earth-like worlds — planets with oceans and continents, where technologically advanced life could develop.
“Imagine looking through a telescope to see another world with life just a few million miles from your own. Or, having the capability to travel between them on a regular basis. I can’t think of a more powerful motivation to become a space-faring society,” said Sasselov.
Kaltenegger and Sasselov’s research has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.
For The First Time Ever, Astronomers Have Observed a Black Hole Ejecting Matter Twice
Black holes don’t just sit there munching away constantly on the space around them. Eventually they run out of nearby matter and go quiet, lying in wait until a stray bit of gas passes by.
Then a black hole devours again, belching out a giant jet of particles. And now scientists have captured one doing so not once, but twice – the first time this has been observed.
The two burps, occurring within the span of 100,000 years, confirm that supermassive black holes go through cycles of hibernation and activity.
It’s actually not as animalistic as all that, since black holes aren’t living or sentient, but it’s a decent-enough metaphor for the way black holes devour material, drawing it in with their tremendous gravity.
But even though we’re used to thinking how nothing ever comes back out of a black hole, the curious thing is that they don’t retain everything they capture.
When they consume matter such as gas or stars, they also generate a powerful outflow of high-energy particles from close to the event horizon, but not beyond the point of no return.
“Black holes are voracious eaters, but it also turns out they don’t have very good table manners,” said lead researcher Julie Comerford, an astronomer at the University of Colorado Boulder.
“We know a lot of examples of black holes with single burps emanating out, but we discovered a galaxy with a supermassive black hole that has not one but two burps.”
The black hole in question is the supermassive beast at the centre of a galaxy called SDSS J1354+1327 or just J1354 for short. It’s about 800 million light-years from Earth, and it showed up in Chandra data as a very bright point of X-ray emission – bright enough to be millions or even billions of times more massive than our Sun.
The team of researchers compared X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray observatory to visible-light images from the Hubble Space Telescope, and found that the black hole is surrounded by a thick cloud of dust and gas.
“We are seeing this object feast, burp, and nap, and then feast and burp once again, which theory had predicted,” Comerford said. “Fortunately, we happened to observe this galaxy at a time when we could clearly see evidence for both events.”
That evidence consists of two bubbles in the gas – one above and one below the black hole, expulsions particles following a meal. And they were able to gauge that the two bubbles had occurred at different times.
The southern bubble had expanded 30,000 light-years from the galactic centre, while the northern bubble had expanded just 3,000 light-years from the galactic centre. These are known as Fermi bubbles, and they are usually seen after a black hole feeding event.
From the movement speed of these bubbles, the team was able to work out they occurred roughly 100,000 years apart.
So what’s the black hole eating that’s giving it such epic indigestion? Another galaxy. A companion galaxy is connected to J1354 by streams of stars and gas, due to a collision between the two. It is clumps of material from this second galaxy that swirled towards the black hole and got eaten up.
“This galaxy really caught us off guard,” said doctoral student Rebecca Nevin.
“We were able to show that the gas from the northern part of the galaxy was consistent with an advancing edge of a shock wave, and the gas from the south was consistent with an older outflow from the black hole.”
The Milky Way also has Fermi bubbles following a feeding event by Sagittarius A*, the black hole in its centre. And, just as J1354’s black hole fed, slept, then fed again, astronomers believe Sagittarius A* will wake to feed again too.
The research was presented at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society, and has also been published in The Astrophysical Journal.
We were wrong-100 billion habitable Earth-like planets in our galaxy alone
Estimates by astronomers indicate that there could be more than 100 BILLION Earth-like worlds in the Milky Way that could be home to life. Think that’s a big number? According to astronomers, there are roughly 500 billion galaxies in the known universe, which means there are around 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (5×1022) habitable planets. That’s of course if there’s just ONE universe.
In fact, just inside our Milky Way Galaxy experts believe are some 400 BILLION STARS, but this number may seem small as some astrophysicists believe that stars in our galaxy could figure the TRILLION. This means that the Milky Way alone could be home to more than 100 BILLION planets.
However, since astronomers aren’t able to see our galaxy from the outside, they can’t really know for sure the number of planets the Milky Way is home to. They can only provide estimates.
To do this, experts calculate our galaxy’s mass and calculate how much of that mass is composed of stars. Based on these calculations scientists believe our galaxy is home to at least 400 billion stars, but as I mentioned above, this number could drastically rise.
There are some calculations which suggest that the Milky Way is home on an average between 800 billion and 3.2 trillion planets, but there are some experts who believe the number could be as high as eight trillion.
Furthermore, if we take a look at what NASA has to say, well find out how the space agency believes there are at least 1,500 planets located within 50 light years from Earth. These conclusions are based on observations taken over a period of six years by the PLANET—Probing Lensing Anomalies NETwork—collaboration, founded in 1995. The study concluded that there are way more Earth-sized planets than Jupiter-sized worlds.
So much space, so little information.
In 2013, Dr. Phil Yock, from the department of physics at the University of Auckland said how: “Kepler finds Earth-sized planets that are quite close to their host stars, and astronomers estimate that there are around 17 billion such planets in the Milky Way. These worlds are hotter than our planet, although some could be of a comparable temperature (and could, therefore, be habitable) if they are orbiting a cool star called a red dwarf.”
“Our proposal is to measure the number of Earth-mass planets orbiting stars at distances typically twice the Sun-Earth distance. Our planets will, therefore, be cooler than the Earth. By interpolating between the Kepler and MOA results, we should obtain a good estimate of the number of Earth-like, habitable planets in the Milky Way. We predict a number in the order of 100 billion.”
“Of course, it will be a long way from measuring this number to actually finding inhabited planets, but it will be a step along the way.”
The number seems to be increasing every year.
If we take a peek at the data provided by the Kepler space mission, we’ll find how astronomers believe approximately 40 BILLION Earth-sized planets orbiting habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way galaxy alone.
Since Kepler was launched in 2009, the space telescope has discovered a total of 4,034 potential alien planets, of which 2,335 are verified exoplanets.
Interestingly, some astronomers say that around 11 billion planets may be orbiting Sun-like Stars, while other believe this number is more like 100 billion.
In 2017 NASA made great progress in the search for alien planets. Their most noteworthy discovery was the solar system Trappist-1, home to SEVEN Earth-like planets who may even be home to alien life.
In June of 2017, NASA revealed a statement saying that they had discovered ten new planets outside of our solar system that are very likely of similar size and temperature as Earth and may even have life developed on their surface.
Scientists Found 234 Alien Civilizations
Aliens are like buses, you spend ages waiting for one and then 234 come along at once. Or at least, that’s what two astronomers from the Laval University in Quebec are suggesting.
Ermanno Borra and his graduate student Eric Trottier have analyzed over 2.5 million stars and galaxies for pulses of light emitted at regular intervals and discovered it in 234 stars similar in size to our Sun. The team believes that alien civilizations are behind those signals.
The researchers looked at the Fourier Transform (FT) of the light spectrum. The FT is a mathematical tool that allows us to work out where the components of a signal come from. If the light is a milkshake, by using the FT you get the recipe.
The FT analysis has found periodic modulated components which, according to the scientists, are caused by the super quick light pulses (less than a trillionth of a second) generated by Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI).
In the paper, available from the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, they discard every other explanation such as instrumental effects, rotation of molecules, rapid stellar pulsations, and peculiar chemistry.
“We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis,” the researchers wrote in the paper.
“The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the Sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis.”
These superfast pulses will have to be generated by incredibly powerful lasers, like the one at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Interestingly, in previous publications Borra has stated that this area of astronomy is the least explored, which raises the question on why these aliens would all decide to communicate in such a complicated and energy-consuming way.
The researchers admit that although they believe aliens is the most likely explanation, this is yet to be confirmed.
The Stephen Hawking-backed project Breakthrough Listen will conduct follow-up observations of these 234 stars, but the team at UC Berkeley, where the project’s science program is based, invite people to be skeptical.
“The one in 10,000 objects with unusual spectra seen by Borra and Trottier are certainly worthy of additional study. However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
It is too early to unequivocally attribute these purported signals to the activities of extraterrestrial civilizations,” the Breakthrough Listen team said in a statement.
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