3 Super-Earths Found By Astronomers, 21 Light Years From Earth

At a distance of “only” 21 light years from Earth, researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have uncovered a new planetary system that includes three super-Earths and one giant outer world. One of the so-called super-Earths transits in front of the star and has a density similar to the Earth’s. This makes it the closest transiting planet known, by far.

The planet, known as HD 219134b, moves around its star every three days and is 4.5 times the mass of Earth, and 1.6 times larger, what planet hunters call a super-Earth. Its mean density is close to the density of the Earth, suggesting a possibly similar composition as well.

It’s star, a 5th magnitude K dwarf, slightly colder and less massive than our Sun, is bright enough to follow with a naked eye from dark skies. It can be seen, next to one leg of the W-shape Cassiopeia constellation, all year round in our boreal hemisphere.

First author Ati Motalebi, astronomer at UNIGE, explained:

“When the first HARPS-N radial-velocity measurements indicated the presence of a 3-day planet around HD219134, we immediately asked NASA for Spitzer space telescope time. The idea was to check for a potential transit of the planet in front of the star, a mini eclipse, that would allow us to measure the size of the planet. To do this, we needed to go to space to reach the required precision.”

Astronomers are already planning observations with ground-based high-resolution spectrographs and the future NASA-ESA James Webb Space telescope (JWST) using transmission spectroscopy techniques.

During the transit, the light of the star crosses the atmosphere of the planet on its way to the observer, carrying over the spectral signature of the chemical species present in the atmosphere.

Original Study:

F. Motalebi et al. 2015.
The HARPS-N Rocky Planet Search I. HD219134b: A transiting rocky planet in a multi-planet system at 6.5 pc from the Sun.
A&A, accepted for publication; arXiv: 1507.08532

Illustration: Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg / SIMBAD.

9 comments comments closed

  1. Every day it becomes more difficult to argue that Planet Earth is not regularly being observed and visited by possibly countless extraterrestrial craft as described in UFOs-WHERE FROM HERE. The exploration of the cosmos is laudable, but if we are serious about actually communicating with ultra-intelligence “out there,” we need to stop denying their presence and internationally, collectively begin to understand and interface with them. It can be done. Of what are we so afraid? If they are infinitely smarter and older, nothing keeps them from coming here. Whatever we can do a few thousand years in our future, they have already accomplished. Think about it.

    • If they are 1000s of years more advanced, and nothing keeps them from coming here, where are they? Why haven’t we seen them or met them?

      You are making an assumption that intelligent life “out there” exists. It’s a common assumption, one that NASA agrees with. And there may very well be. But it is still an assumption for which no credible evidence exists. The fact of the matter is, There have been no confirmed credible accounts proving the existence of any life at all outside our own planet.

      Most of the people in a position to make a difference are not denying that they exist. NASA is spending billions of dollars in SETI, and sending space probes all over the solar system searching for signs of life. They’ve convinced themselves that it must exist out there somewhere among the countless stars and galaxies. But before you can communicate with it, you must find it. And that’s not something we’ve done.

      • Even if we diametrically disagree, it’s good to talk with someone who thinks. Which is precisely the purpose of my book, UFOs-WHERE FROM HERE. To urge the collective intelligence of Planet Earth to delve into the greatest secular mystery of all human history. I can’t do justice to my reasoning and all premises in 1 paragraph or on 1 page. However, I’ll do my best. Countless credible people are seeing extraterrestrial craft. I have to assume that’s true, otherwise I’d have to assume they are all fabricating, outright lying, hallucinating, or drugging. These craft could be time travelers, from other dimensions, from parallel universes, from light-years away if they’ve conquered those assumed limits. Over-simply stated, no one knows the answers, but the answers can be collectively found. One thing for certain, we will not in the foreseeable future be talking with ultra-intelligence unless it comes to us. I believe “they” are already here. One additional main point: Whatever we can do in a hundred, five-hundred or three thousand years–if we survive that long–more intelligent and much older aliens have already done it. I hope you and all other people who think outside the box, will read the book. Enter Fred Worfe in your browser. All three of my books are available in hardback, paperback and E-reader form.

        • Ah, I see. You’re a conspiracy theorist (Perhaps a Scientologist?) trying to sell your book. Your conflict of interest in this discussion creates a huge hole in your credibility.

          • Thought I was talking with a well-balanced adult, maybe even an intellectual who contributes to to the dialogue. My mistake.

          • Just because I’m not interested in your book, which you brought up 3 times in two comments (pushy, like a commercial), I’m no longer an intellectual and well-balanced adult? Do you realize your snap judgement about me also reflects poorly on what you find credible when it comes to judging reports of extraterrestrial craft (and that I am now even less interested in reading your books because of it)?

            The root of the problem for me is that you’re basing your entire premise on an unverified assumptions. Namely, your assumption that “the countless “credible” people who report seeing extraterrestrial craft” are telling the truth. You say you “have to assume that’s true”. Why must you? For what reason(s) specifically must you assume that? There’s too many assumptions here. First, you’re assuming that the people who report such things are credible. Some may be. Many have been proven not to be, creating hoaxes of varying quality in order to garner support, income, or fame. Second, you’re assuming that the people making the reports are qualified to recognize an alien craft from another planet just by looking at it. I’m sure people see things in the sky or on the ground that are confusing and perform in ways that the observer doesn’t understand or expect. I’ve seen something like that myself. But that does not mean that what they (or I) saw is from another planet, and controlled by an intellectually superior being. It means simply that the observer doesn’t understand or recognize what they saw. Claiming it is an alien craft is their attempt to explain what they saw, but it is their assumption not verified by qualified investigation. Another way of putting it is It’s a jump to a conclusion. (I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the highest density of UFO sightings – Roswell NM, is right next door to a classified military base that was investigating experimental aircraft. It’s reasonable to expect that UFO sightings were actually of US military test hardware). Thirdly, actual scientists are searching for intelligent life from other planets, and have been for decades. If they meet a highly publicized goal by finding what they are looking for, why wouldn’t they publish it? Why are the vast majority of people who say aliens exist, not actually trained scientists, and why are the scientists who are making a career of looking for ET not able to find it? Lastly, if super intelligent aliens were living among us, why haven’t they made themselves known to us? Why would they keep it a secret? Why would they come here at all if they were not going to interact with the local residents of earth?

            Extra terrestrial intelligent life may very well exist on other planets. I don’t know. Personally, I believe there are intelligent beings other than humans, though definitely not in the way you think. But in this case, I think it unwise to make conclusive statements that are based on assumptions, not verifiable evidence or repeatable data, especially when making claims that contradict basic human logic. And stating with confidence that “the answers can be collectively found” is another assumption that sounds suspiciously like a type of ‘faith’ in the capability of science.

          • All your points are well-stated; well-argued–and I think all are dealt with in my book. Not necessarily in agreement, but dealt with nevertheless. (Yes, pushing my UFO book again–but that’s what this discussion turns on). I’d like nothing better than to get our planet thinking about this subject, pro or con. It just hasn’t been effectively analyzed by the best and sincerest brains of our world. But I’m repeating myself. Maybe it’s all imaginary; hallucinatory, wishful Santa Clause thinking. If so, let’s find out. I believe we of humankind can discover and face the truth. If not, we’re already in a whole lot of trouble. Historically, we’ve been wrong on just about every humanly important science theory and fact. That’s another reason to argue that we are still in our metaphysical infancy. But we are evolving. Hopefully far and fast enough to survive. Best.

          • What, No discussion or counterpoints?. Just “read my book”. I think there are more important things to think about. Humankind is already lost, and it doesn’t matter whether aliens exist and are living here already or not.

  2. 21 light years!!!! Wow! Only 120 trillion miles or so. That is so………………close. Maybe someday, if we really try hard, and all work on this together, we will NEVER get there.