Latest in Science

Image credit:

The first potentially habitable alien planets we ever found -- might not actually exist

26 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

We've had our bags packed for a (hopefully) Richard Branson-led expedition to the "potentially habitable" exoplanets circling Gliese 581 for years, but there's one small hitch: new research indicates some of them might not be there. In 2007, astronomers observing the star detected four planets, with two of them in the so-called "Goldilocks zone" (not too close to the star and too hot, not too far and too cold) including one called 581d. Later in 2010, they added two more planets to the tally, including Gliese 581g, which had even better odds for life, and since then we've found others. The problem is that despite artists depictions of what a planet might be like, scientists are really just looking at "squiggles on a graph." That's what the leader of the new research, Paul Robertson said, as his team found that the measurements used to detect planets could be affected by things like sunspots, leading false indications of the two planets listed above.

[Image credit: Lynette Cook / NASA]

In searching for these planets astronomers used readings from spectrographs, which focus on specific patterns of light from the star. It took years to detect the readings suggesting the planets existed, but now after observing a different spectrum, Robertson's team at Pennsylvania State University has seen some signals fade away, while the other planets got stronger. The details are in a paper published in the journal Science, but if you just need a bit of good news then check this out: Robertson told Space.com that he thinks we will "find more planets than we lose," by detecting them within the "noise" stars produce.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
26 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Dell's Black Friday discounts include $220 off the Alienware 25 monitor

Dell's Black Friday discounts include $220 off the Alienware 25 monitor

View
The best 4K monitors

The best 4K monitors

View
Save $50 on Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2 ahead of Black Friday

Save $50 on Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active 2 ahead of Black Friday

View
Valve has made me believe in Half-Life again

Valve has made me believe in Half-Life again

View
Samsung Galaxy S11 renders show an even more complicated camera array

Samsung Galaxy S11 renders show an even more complicated camera array

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr