Scientists discover five planets around Tau Ceti and one is in the habitable zone

Dec 19, 2012
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Scientists have announced a very interesting discovery around a star in our celestial backyard. The star is called Tau Ceti and it is only 12 light years from the Earth. Astronomers and scientists have been investigating the star and have detected slight movement of what they believe to be five planets orbiting it.

According to the scientists they have detected very slight back-and-forth movement of the star at different times indicating five planets are orbiting it and pushing it back and forth. The subtle movements of the star show up to astronomers here on earth as slight and subtle changes in the star's light. One of the planets believed to be orbiting the distant star would be in the star's habitable zone.

Another reason the discovery of possible planets orbiting a relatively close star is important is because the scientists discovered indications of the planets in existing data using newly refined search methods. The scientists optimized what they call a noise-modeling strategy that allows them to recover their fake signals. The recovery of these fake signals also led to the discovery of real signals according to the scientists.

Scientists believe that the planets orbiting the star range between two and six times the Earth's mass with orbits spanning 14 to 1640 days. The planet that is believed to be habitable has been dubbed HD 10700e and lies roughly as far from Tau Ceti as the Earth is from the sun. Tau Ceti is slightly smaller and dimmer than our Sun putting the planet in the habitable zone.

[via BBC]


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