Potentially Habitable Exoplanet discovered in our stellar neighborhood. The new Super-Earth in six-Planet system, may have an Earth-like climate. Image credit: J. Pinfield, for the RoPACS network at the University of Hertfordshire
Artist’s concept of the HD 40307 planetary system featuring a close-up view of HD 40307g, which orbits within the habitable zone.
The system located 43 light-years away in the southern constellation Pictor, was previously thought to contain three planets in orbits too close to the orange-colored dwarf star HD 40307.
A team of astronomers, led by Mikko Tuomi, University of Hertfordshire, and Guillem Anglada-Escude, University of Goettingen, have identified three new super-Earth planet candidates also in orbit.
Mikko Tuomi said: “We pioneered new data analysis techniques including the use of the wavelength as a filter to reduce the influence of activity on the signal from this star. This significantly increased our sensitivity and enabled us to reveal three new super-Earth planets around the star known as HD 40307, making it into a six-planet system.”
Of the new planets, the one of greatest interest is the one with the outermost orbit from the star — with a mass at least seven times of the Earth. Its orbit around the host star is at a similar distance to Earth’s orbit around our Sun, so it receives a similar amount of energy from the star as the Earth receives from the Sun – increasing the probability of it being habitable.
Guillem Angla-Escude said: “The star HD 40307, is a perfectly quiet old dwarf star, so there is no reason why such a planet could not sustain an Earth-like climate.”
Hugh Jones, University of Hertfordshire, added: “The longer orbit of the new planet means that its climate and atmosphere may be just right to support life. Just as Goldilocks liked her porridge to be neither too hot nor too cold but just right, this planet or indeed any moons that is has lie in an orbit comparable to Earth, increasing the probability of it being habitable.”
Source: University of Hertfordshire