Habitable planet found

The world is one of five thought to be circling Tau Ceti, a star just 12 light years away which is almost identical to the sun. Astronomers estimate the Tau Ceti planets to be two to six times bigger than Earth. One of them, with five times the Earth's mass, lies in the star's 'habitable zone'.

Also known as the 'Goldilocks zone', this is the orbital region that is neither too hot nor too cold to allow liquid surface water and, potentially, life. Details of the discovery are to appear in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. Because of the difficulties involved in detecting extra-solar planets, most found so far have had high masses.

The Tau Ceti planetary family is thought to be the lowest mass solar system yet detected.
Scientists found the planets using a highly sensitive technique that combined data from more than 6,000 observations from three different telescopes. They used the radial velocity method which looks for "wobble" in a star's movement caused by the gravitational tug of planets.

Dr James Jenkins, a member of the international team from the University of Hertfordshire, said: "Tau Ceti is one of our nearest cosmic neighbours and so bright that we may be able to study the atmospheres of these planets in the not-too-distant future. Planetary systems found around nearby stars close to our sun indicate that these systems are common in our Milky Way galaxy."

More than 800 planets have been discovered orbiting stars beyond the sun since the 1990s.
Those found around the nearest sun-like stars are the most interesting to astronomers.

Professor Steve Vogt, another team member from the University of California at Santa Cruz, said: "This discovery is in keeping with our emerging view that virtually every star has planets, and that the galaxy must have many such potentially habitable Earth-sized planets. They are everywhere, even right next door."

Professor Chris Tinney, an Australian member from the University of New South Wales, said: "As we stare at the night sky, it is worth contemplating that there may well be more planets out there than there are stars, some fraction of which may well be habitable."

Dr Jenkins is a visiting fellow at the University of Hertfordshire who is based at the University of Chile. (Jon Von Radowitz/The Independent)


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Would seem a good direction to send a satellite/rover package, using whatever whip around speed you can get from our sun. But even at say 50,000mph its going to take hundreds of years to get there, but like a scout we will have eyes there when we head out, if we head that way. A human robot would be better, or we could just keep sending out upgraded as technology advances, but with all these stupid wars since time began human conflicts are wasting our resources. We need all human cultures to stop all other technological sciences for war profiteers and conquest and focus all human energy on getting to these places. Using the exploration as a collective cure to bring out the better side of our human nature, so we can become an advanced species.

Its nice to know that Earth isnt the only planet and that life could possibly exist. Cryogenics is well on its way and space travel has yet to become affordable. Heres to hoping that some day the human race will get to the point of being able to leave the solar system.

Can we send our Congress there?

The headline is incorrect. Scientists have only found, with high probability, a planet that is within the so-called habitable zone of its star. Keep in mind that our Moon and Mars are within the habitable zone of our own star. Merely existing within the habitable zone does not make a planet habitable. Thats assuming these planets even really exist; the discovery is only a statistical analysis of data, not direct observation. Of course, we know nothing at all about the specific characteristics of these worlds.

Awesome! Call in the planet movers! Lets tow it to our solar system now!

Thank you for your exciting work. Ive been a space junkie all my life. Im 70 now and hoping for confirmation that we are not alone in my lifetime. Hurry up! I do believe proof is there, but it has so far been anecdotal.

"Habitable Planet" ? such a deceptive comment or otherwise ignorant! With 5 times the gravity of Earth how would that be "habitable" when bones cant grow? Atmosphere (any at all/with O2 nothing toxic?) water?, tectonic plates? carbon? magnetic core to protect from solar wind? perfectly sized moon to maintain planetary orbit so as to not freeze at night/melt in day? and on and on and on. Habitable? More like stupid Journalist

Congratulations, you found Brobdingnag. The readers of Jonathon Swifts Gullivers Travels will be thrilled. It the planets in the habitable zone are that much bigger than earth, imagine the giants they will produce. Could be that we are Lilliputians all. Thanks.

Thank you Jon Von Radowitz for this outstanding scientific gift! , A new Goldy locks planet to occupy, nice for a not so typical California holiday Xmas Road Trip! :):):)
Only take about 250 years away, bring plenty of snacks, beer, soup, juices, potato chips. peanut butter! "All aboard" Caption Joes one way Rocket! Crew : Christopher,Misty ,Leila ,Hayley, Tish, Adam, Rita, Donna donuts], Russell, Steve & Steve, L&R] Lynn & Hubby, Darrell & Darrell, Izzy, Gage, Claudia, the Zod, Jeff, Michelle, Gabby, Kelly, Linda, Alexis, Kiana, Angie, Joe G and Joe E, Mr.& Mrs Walt, Suzie cream cheese and Shane! and in memory of Bill] Each person can have a continent of their very own, of course thats after 249 years, as we will be Popsicle so as to save the toilets from over-flowing! :):):) Merry Xmas Humans! Happy Universe ! Joe6pK

I just wanted to mention the coincidence of the Star Trek years of the planets they have visited is so close to this planetary system.

Tau Ceti was the primary of the inhabited Tau Ceti planetary system. There were several planets in the system that were inhabited: Tau Ceti III, Tau Ceti IV, and Tau Ceti Prime. Tau Alpha C was also located in the system. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; TNG: "Conspiracy", "Remember Me", "Journeys End"; VOY: "Coda")

Tau Ceti was located in the Alpha Quadrant. Its location was depicted on two Federation star charts. In the first chart, showing the location of this star in the Milky Way Galaxy, was first seen in 2293. It was depicted as being near Sol, Alpha Centauri, and Sirius. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, production art)

In 2364, on several occasions that year, viewscreen readouts aboard the USS Enterprise-D showed the location of Tau Ceti, in the form of charts from the Enterprise library computer. (TNG: "The Naked Now", "The Last Outpost", "Conspiracy") The system was also quite some distance away from Starbase 133, at warp 9.5 it took 123 days to get there. (TNG: "Remember Me", "Journeys End")

The title of the article is highly, highly inaccurate. A habitable planet was NOT found. A POSSIBLY habitable planet may have been found.

If only we would put more dedication to actually getting to these planets and seeing what is out there. Instead we kill each other. War after war. Is it ever going to stop?

The planet is reported as "habitable," is " 5 times" earth mass. It has been some time since my freshman physics, but I seem to recall that greater planetary mass might mean greater gravitational acceleration, hence, we humans might have to endure higher gravity in order to liver there, assuming a breathable atmosphere,etc. Please let me know, as Im pretty sure Id book passage soon as youre ready to go.

The shuttle orbits the Earth at about 5 miles per second (18,000 mph). Light travels at 186,000 miles per second, which is about 37,200 times faster than the shuttle. So the shuttle would need about 37,200 years to go one light-year..... meaning it would take one of us "humans" roughly 4.5 MILLION calander years to get there!!!!! Was this story really worth mentioning? If so, some perspective so as not to mislead readers would have been relevent!

Your title is very misleading. They have no way of knowing if its habitable or not.
The habitable zone only means that its in a temperature range to have liquid water
for part of its year.