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Habitable Planet Reality Check: A Super-Earth Orbiting the Nearby LHS 1140

21 Apr 2017, 13:02 UTC
Habitable Planet Reality Check: A Super-Earth Orbiting the Nearby LHS 1140
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The year 2017 has certainly been turning out to be a busy one for the discovery of extrasolar planets orbiting nearby stars. This should not be too surprising as the efforts of an expanding number of surveys using a variety of increasingly sensitive techniques are finally bearing fruit after years and even decades of work. The latest announcement was made on April 19, 2017 along with the publication the following day of a paper in the respected peer-reviewed science journal, Nature, with Jason Dittmann (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) as the lead author. An international team of astronomers using precision photometry and radial velocity measurements have detected a super Earth-size exoplanet orbiting the nearby red dwarf called LHS 1140. This interesting new find, known as LHS 1140b, also appears to orbit inside its parent star’s habitable zone. So, what are the prospects that this newly discovered world is indeed habitable?

Background
LHS 1140 is a V magnitude 14.2 red dwarf located in the constellation of Cetus – The Sea Monster. The star’s LHS designation comes from the Luyten Half Second catalog whose definitive edition was published in 1979 by Dutch-American astronomer Willem Jacob Luyten (1899-1994) who had spent his ...

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