viernes, 11 de octubre de 2013

'Habitable' planet no longer lost in space - Irish Independent

The remnants of a lost water world of rocks and oceans have been discovered by astronomers – who said they had found the basic ingredients for a habitable planet beyond our Solar System.

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Astronomers believe the tiny blip on their telescope screens some 150 light years from Earth was once a rocky planet with huge amounts of water – the first time they have found rocks and water together in one place outside the Solar System.

Water and a rocky surface are assumed to be vital for life and the discovery indicates that the basic building blocks for habitable planets may be widely distributed throughout the cosmos, scientists said.

The rocky body, or asteroid, is orbiting a star called GD 61, a "white dwarf" where the star's nuclear fuel has been exhausted. The asteroid is believed to be the remnants of a small, watery planet.

Scientists said that the original planet was once composed of 26pc water – by contrast the Earth is just 0.023pc water.

A separate team has discovered a lonely planet floating through space without a companion star, the first planet to be found without a sun.

The planet is about six times the mass of Jupiter – a "gas giant" planet – and is estimated to have formed just 12 million years ago.

It is about 80 light years away from Earth. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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