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News Worms

Astronomers Discover 60 New Planets including 'super Earth'

Astronomers Discover 60 New Planets including 'super Earth'

This is in addition to astronomers who have found 60 planets near Earth - with the possibility of many being able to hold life.

In the new study, the researchers identified 60 so-called planet candidates, as well as 54 other suggestive signals that require further investigation before they can be elevated to candidate status.

STARGAZERS searching for new planets have discovered a hot super-Earth with a rocky surface could be the next closest thing to Earth and might be teeming with alien life.

A spokesman for the University of Hertfordshire wrote in a press release: "Gliese 411b is a hot super-Earth with a rocky surface located in the fourth nearest star system to the Sun, making it the third nearest planetary system to the Sun".

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The planet has the decidedly unsexy name Gliese 411b - Gliese 411 being the name of the star it orbits, and "b" being the unique label for the world itself - but what it lacks in a cool moniker it makes up for with a fiery personality.

But astronomers did not believe it 5 years ago, but now they believe it.

The results are based on observations taken over a 20 year period by USA astronomers using the Keck-I telescope in Hawaii as part of the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey.

During that time the team obtained nearly 61,000 individual observations of 1,600 stars. You can find the full database here.

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Sponsored by NASA and the National Space Organization, the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey started in 1996 and puts to use the talents of planet hunters from a number of organizations including the University of California (UC) Santa Cruz and the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC. It represents a good chunk of my life's work'. Scientists historically assumed that only a few stars had planets but there appears to be a almost infinite number of planets beyond the solar system based on recent surveys of the sky. "This means that virtually every star has a planet, or several of them, orbiting it", Tuomi said.

"We were very conservative in this paper about what counts as an exoplanet candidate and what does not", Tuomi explained, "and even with our stringent criteria, we found over 100 new likely planet candidates".

The research team discovered the planets with the iodine cell radial velocity technique. The tiny variations then reveal the existence of an orbiting planet. The Keck planet survey has become an intergenerational project that keeps yielding important discoveries more than 20 years after it was initiated'.

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