November 7th, 2007

Earth-from-space

Astro-image of the day: New alien world in the habitable zone

Astronomers have discovered a fifth planet orbiting the star 55 Cancri, making it the record-holder outside of good ol' Sol for number of confirmed planets orbiting one star. Interestingly, it's only 41 light-years away in the constellation Cancer, so we might be able to meet its denizens one day *g*

Here's an artist's representation of the newest find:

Click the image to see the story.

MSNBC is reporting the story from the angle that this new planet orbits in the habitable zone or, as they say, "the 'Goldilocks zone' - a place that's not too hot, not too cold, but just right for the existence of liquid water and conceivably life." Unfortunately for life, 55 Cancri (aka Rho Cancri) is a binary system, with a yellow dwarf similar to our Sun and a red dwarf. The two stars are separated by over 1000 AUs, or 1/63rd of a light-year.

Cool beans! Thanks to scarlettina for the tip.

Best,
Chris