The article published in the Washington Post announces the discovery of 50 new planets believed to circle other stars located millions of kilometers beyond the sun. The article primarily focuses on one planet dubbed HD85512b, which has been observed to orbit around a slightly smaller and cooler star compared to our sun (Vastag, 2012). The Max Planck Institute located in Germany announced the discovery on September 2011. The star is dubbed the HD85512, and can be observed using a powerful telescope in the constellation Vela in the southern sky.
The news article presents enlightening information that related to what I have learnt in class. For instance, the article reports the newly discovered planet (HD85512b) circles its star (HD85512) once every 59 days. We have learnt in class that different planets take different days, months, and in some cases years to orbit around their stars. This depends with the distance they are located from their star. In this case, the article reports the HD85512b is close to its star, which explains why it takes fewer days to orbit around the HD85512. In addition, the astronomers who made the discovery of the ‘super-earth’ believe the planet could be habitable because it is located at the warm edge of its star’s habitable zone.
The arguments postulated by the astronomers resonate well with what I have learnt in class. That for a planet to support life, the right conditions such as warm temperatures and availability of water is a pre-requisite. The astronomers are planning to build a powerful telescope called the ‘European Extremely Large Telescope’ that will be capable of the task of observing the HD85512 ground surface to see if there is an adequate cloud cover to keep the water if there is none cool enough from boiling. The article has also enlightened me about the field of ‘Extragalactic astronomy’ that studies object outside our galaxy. The astronomers mentioned in the article belong to this field.
Vastag, B. (2012). New super-Earth that is 36 light-years away might hold water, astronomers say - Washington Post. Featured Articles From The Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2012, from http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-09- 12/news/35272613_1_hd85512b-super-earth-habitable-zone