Nearby planet orbiting Kapteyn’s Star may have flowing water


By Mike Cannon, The Space Reporter | June 03, 2014

Nearby planet orbiting Kapteyn’s Star may have flowing water

The planet was discovered orbiting Kapteyn’s Star, a red dwarf only 13 light years away, making it the 25th closest star to our sun.

A newly-discovered planet may have liquid water on its surface, according to a report published today by an international team of astronomers. The planet was discovered orbiting Kapteyn’s Star, a red dwarf only 13 light years away, making it the 25th closest star to our sun.

“Finding a stable planetary system with a potentially habitable planet orbiting one of the very nearest stars in the sky is mind blowing,” said Pamela Arriagada, an author on the study. “This is one more piece of evidence that nearly all stars have planets, and that potentially habitable planets in our galaxy are as common as grains of sand on a beach.”

Two planets were discovered orbiting the star, but the one dubbed Kapteyn b has sparked the most interest. Although at least five times larger than Earth, it is in the habitable zone, meaning it could potentially have liquid water on its surface depending on the composition of the atmosphere. Kapteyn b orbits its star once every 48 days.

Since Kapteyn’s Star is puts out much less energy than our sun, it could still be cool enough for liquid water despite being much closer to its star than Earth. The second planet, Kapteyn a, orbits every 121 days, making it too far away for water to be anything other than ice.

Kapteyn’s Star is thought to be a remnant of a dwarf galaxy that was absorbed into the Milky Way.Astronomers believe that the star and its planets have been around for 11.5 billion years, rouglhy 2.5 times as long as Earth.

“It does make you wonder what kind of life could have evolved on those planets over such a long time,” said Guillem Anglada-Escude, the lead author of the study.

The next step will be analyzing the atmosphere of the planet to determine if liquid water is in fact present. Although the technology to do this is still under development, Kapteyn b could be one of the first planets on the list for atmospheric analysis due to its close proximity to Earth.


Have something to say? Let us know in the comments section or send an email to the author. You can share ideas for stories by contacting us here.

Comments
Seven planetary missions receive NASA extensions Seven planetary missions receive NASA extensions
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 05, 2014

Milky Way part of newly discovered supercluster Milky Way part of newly discovered supercluster
Andrew McDonald - Sep 04, 2014

Life after NASA: Astronauts' careers after returning to Earth Life after NASA: Astronauts' careers after returning to Earth
Andrew McDonald - Sep 03, 2014

ISS to get first ever 3D printer in space ISS to get first ever 3D printer in space
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 02, 2014

Geckos sent to space in Russian sex experiment return dead Geckos sent to space in Russian sex experiment return dead
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 02, 2014

New cryotank passes NASA tests New cryotank passes NASA tests
Andrew McDonald - Sep 02, 2014

Mars to be prominent in September evening sky Mars to be prominent in September evening sky
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 01, 2014

Flash memory on Opportunity rover computer to be reformatted Flash memory on Opportunity rover computer to be reformatted
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 01, 2014

Early galaxy 'Sparky' was a star factory Early galaxy 'Sparky' was a star factory
Andrew McDonald - Aug 29, 2014

NASA’s “Swarmies” tested for use in space NASA’s “Swarmies” tested for use in space
Andrew McDonald - Aug 29, 2014

ESA observatory catches white dwarf going supernova ESA observatory catches white dwarf going supernova
Andrew McDonald - Aug 29, 2014

Researchers detect neutrinos in the Sun's core Researchers detect neutrinos in the Sun's core
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 29, 2014

Spitzer telescope observes colliding asteroids around young star Spitzer telescope observes colliding asteroids around young star
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 29, 2014

NASA’s Space Launch System moves toward development stage NASA’s Space Launch System moves toward development stage
Andrew McDonald - Aug 27, 2014

Martian rock deemed unsuitable for Curiosity rover's drilling Martian rock deemed unsuitable for Curiosity rover's drilling
Andrew McDonald - Aug 27, 2014

Telescopes capture unprecedented view of early colliding galaxies Telescopes capture unprecedented view of early colliding galaxies
Andrew McDonald - Aug 26, 2014

Five possible landing spots chosen for Rosetta probe Five possible landing spots chosen for Rosetta probe
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 26, 2014

Thigh bone on Mars? NASA weighs in Thigh bone on Mars? NASA weighs in
Ross Cronkrite - Aug 26, 2014

Fermilab experiment questions nature of the universe Fermilab experiment questions nature of the universe
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 26, 2014

NASA may delay commercial contract award after failed SpaceX launch NASA may delay commercial contract award after failed SpaceX launch
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 26, 2014

NASA restores Voyager's historic footage of Neptune's strange moon Triton NASA restores Voyager's historic footage of Neptune's strange moon Triton
Ross Cronkrite - Aug 26, 2014

Pluto-bound probe crosses orbit of Neptune Pluto-bound probe crosses orbit of Neptune
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 25, 2014

SpaceX Falcon 9 flew with 3D-printed component SpaceX Falcon 9 flew with 3D-printed component
Andrew McDonald - Aug 22, 2014

High resolution satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base High resolution satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 22, 2014

Tiny Peruvian satellite released from ISS Tiny Peruvian satellite released from ISS
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 22, 2014

Rare black hole confirmed using light oscillations Rare black hole confirmed using light oscillations
Andrew McDonald - Aug 22, 2014

Russian space official claims plankton grew on exterior of ISS Russian space official claims plankton grew on exterior of ISS
Andrew McDonald - Aug 22, 2014

In ancient star, scientists find material from early universe In ancient star, scientists find material from early universe
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 22, 2014

Boeing meets deadline for designing commercial spacecraft Boeing meets deadline for designing commercial spacecraft
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 21, 2014