15 new planets have been discovered that can support life

Fifteen new planets have been discovered in the habitable zones of the other stars.

A report of the research has been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal and released via arxiv.org on Monday 7 January 2013.

This research has been done by the participants from the Planethunters.org website that is the part of the Oxford University based Zooniverse project.

Artist's rendition of PH2 b moon (Credit: H. Giguere, M. Giguere/Yale University)

This discovery has added the planets to the already discovered 19 planets in the habitable zones. These planets are in the habitable zones and are considered as neither too hot nor too cold for the presence of liquid water. This new finding proposes a kind of ‘traffic jam’ of all kinds of strange worlds in areas that could seriously support life.

One of the 15 planets, dubbed as ‘PH2 b’, is about the size of Jupiter and is orbiting a Planethunters.org has been officially confirmed as a planet with certainty of 99.9% after follow up work of Sun-like star in Hawai’i.

“There’s an obsession with finding Keck telescope but what we are discovering, with planets such as PH2 b, is far stranger,” Zooniverse lead Dr Earth-like planets of Oxford University, Chris Lintott. “Jupiter has several large water-rich moons – imagine dragging that system into the comfortably warm region where the Earth is. If such a planet had Earth size moons, we’d see not Europa and Callisto but worlds with rivers, lakes and all sorts of habitats – a surprising scenario that might just be common.”

“We are seeing the emergence of a new era in the Planet Hunters project where our volunteers seem to be at least as efficient as the computer algorithms at finding planets orbiting at habitable zone distances from the host stars,” said Planethunters lead scientist Professor Debra Fisher of said in a statement. “Now, the hunt is not just targeting any old exoplanet – volunteers are homing in on habitable worlds.”

Lead author Dr Ji Wang, also of Yale University, said, “We can speculate that PH2 b might have a rocky moon that would be suitable for life. I can’t wait for the day when astronomers report detecting signs of life on other worlds instead of just locating potentially habitable environments. That could happen any day now.”

“These are planet candidates that slipped through the net, being missed by professional astronomers and rescued by volunteers in front of their web browsers,” said Lintott.” It’s remarkable to think that absolutely anyone can discover a planet.”

“In general, we have shown that we are not quite as unique as we once thought. Our solar system closely resembles other observable planetary systems within our galaxy. In this way, our results serve to corroborate other research results which indicate that earth-like planets are more widespread in the universe than previously believed,” said Professor Martin Bizzarro, head of the Centre for Star and Planet Formation at University of Copenhagen.

From the Yale University, “Although most of these planets are large, like Neptune or Jupiter in our own Solar System, these discoveries increase the sample size of long-period planet candidates by more than 30% and almost double the number of known gas giant planet candidates in the habitable zone. In the future, we may find moons around these planet candidates (just like Pandora around Polyphemus in the movie Avatar) that allows life to survive and evolve under a habitable temperature.”

Reference:

Ji Wang, Debra A. Fischer, Thomas Barclay, Tabetha S. Boyajian, Justin R. Crepp, Megan E. Schwamb, Chris Lintott, Kian J. Jek, Arfon M. Smith, Michael Parrish, Kevin Schawinski, Joseph Schmitt, Matthew J. Giguere, John M. Brewer, Stuart Lynn, Robert Simpson, Abe J. Hoekstra, Thomas Lee Jacobs, Daryll LaCourse, Hans Martin Schwengeler, & Mike Chopin (2013). Planet Hunters. V. A Confirmed Jupiter-Size Planet in the Habitable Zone
and 42 Planet Candidates from the Kepler Archive Data Astrophysical Journal arXiv: Planet Hunters