NASA discovers most Earth-like planet in ‘Habitable Zone’

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has found an Earth-sized planet within the habitable zone of the star it orbits, the space agency announced Thursday.

The planet, which NASA calls Kepler-186f, is located in the constellation Cygnus, about 500 light-years from Earth. Kepler-186f orbits the star Kepler-186 once every 130 days and receives one-third of the energy from that star than Earth does from the sun, NASA said in a statement. The amount of energy Kepler-186f receives at noon is similar to what Earth receives an hour before sunset, which places the newly discovered planet at the outer edge of the habitable zone.

NASA defines the habitable zone as “the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet.” Being in the habitable zone, however, does not guarantee that life is possible, just that it could be.

“We know of just one planet where life exists — Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth,” Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the paper published in the journal Science, said in the NASA statement. “Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward.”

Kepler-186 is located near the bright star Deneb, which is one of the defining stars of the Cygnus constellation, according to the French blog Around the Sky. It is classified as an M dwarf (also known as a red dwarf) star, which means it is smaller and dimmer than the sun, NASA said. This particular star is about half the size and mass of Earth’s sun. M dwarfs make up approximately 70 percent of the stars in the Milky Way.

 

Image Credit: NASA Ames / SETI Institute / JPL-Caltech

Image Credit: NASA Ames / SETI Institute / JPL-Caltech

“The host star, Kepler 186, is an M1-type dwarf star which means it will burn hydrogen forever, so there is ample opportunity to develop life around this particular star and because it has just the right orbital period water may exist in a liquid phase on this planet,” said Notre Dame astrophysicist Justin R. Crepp in Science Codex.

There is much that is unknown about the Kepler-186f planet, including its mass and composition, though the researches posit that the planet is likely to be rocky. NASA does know that the planet is less than ten percent larger than Earth.

“The Kepler space telescope infers the existence of a planet by the amount of starlight blocked when it passes in front of its star. From these data, a planet’s radius, orbital period and the amount of energy [received] from the host star can be determined,” NASA said.

“Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has,” Thomas Barclay, research scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames and co-author of the paper, said in the NASA press release. “Kepler-186f can be thought of as an Earth-cousin rather than an Earth-twin. It has many properties that resemble Earth.”

The Kepler telescope launched in 2009 with the goal of searching about 150,000 target stars for planets transiting (passing by) the telescope at least three times over the course of up to three years, Reuters reports. Researchers pore through archived data from Kepler to find planets that could be in the habitable zone, which is nicknamed the “Goldilocks Zone.”

“It’s very challenging to find Earth analogs,” Barclay said to Reuters. “Most candidates don’t pan out, but things change as we get more measurements.”

NASA says the next step is to look for true Earth-twins and to measure their chemical compositions. Kepler-186f will also be a target for future telescopes in the hopes of measuring its chemical composition, Reuters reports.

 

 

SOURCE: http://rt.com/usa/nasa-kepler-planet-habitabal-zone-256/

Sun Goes Wild: NOAA Issues Alert: Earth Directed X-Class Flare Is On Its Way; Chance Of More

Mac Salvo
SHTFplan.com
January 8, 2014

This morning The Daily Sheeple reported that the biggest sun spot in recent history had been identified on the sun and that it had moved into position facing earth. The spot is so large that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it could swallow three earths.

sunspot1944

(Photo by Rocky Raybell : Sun spot AR1944 is so big it can be seen with amateur telescopes)

The spot was mostly quiet for the last few days and wasn’t directly facing earth, though a smaller Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) glanced the planet in the early hours of January 7th.

Then at 12:32 Central Time it went wild:

Massive sunspot AR1944 has erupted. The X1 flare has sent a coronal mass ejection into space, and it’s heading towards Earth.

NOAA has upped the risk from further X-class flares to 50% for the next 24 hours. Risk of M-class up to 80%

The NASA-ESA Heliophysics Fleet is monitoring the sunspot and CME. Depending on its speed it could take anywhere from a day to three days to hit earth. NBC News reports that the flare is already responsible for radio traffic disruptions.

sunspotAR1944

(Pictured: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows a blast of activity originating from the center of the sun’s disk on Tuesday)

Though an X-1 Class flare is not going to cause widespread power outages across earth, the possibility of increased activity on the sun has been noted by NASA and other researchers, as the sunspot destabilizes further.

The rapid formation of sunspot AR1944 and the earth-facing ejections highlight how quickly life on earth could change if the right conditions are met.

In the summer of 2012 a massive solar flare was ejected by the sun and narrowly missed earth.

Had it occurred just a week prior, the highly charged particles would have struck earth and, according to CU-Boulder Professor Daniel Baker, would have led to nothing short of a technological disaster across the globe.

The CME itself was massive… and its speed was unprecedented, clocking in at 7 million miles per hour.

While typical coronal mass ejections from the sun take two or three days to reach Earth, the 2012 event traveled from the sun’s surface to Earth in just 18 hours.

“The speed of this event was as fast or faster than anything that has been seen in the modern space age,” said Baker.

Had it hit Earth, the July 2012 event likely would have created a technological disaster by short-circuiting satellites, power grids, ground communication equipment and even threatening the health of astronauts and aircraft crews.

Source: Scientists Warn of Worst Case Scenario

But that flare wasn’t a once-in-a-million-years event.

A decade ago in 2003 NASA identified the most powerful flare in recorded observational history:

In 2003 a solar flare emitted by the sun was the most powerful in recorded observational history, measuring in at levels so high that had it hit earth it would have likely disabled everything from the internet and mobile phones, to water utility plants and the whole of the U.S. electricity infrastructure.

That event was originally thought to have been an X-28 class flare, more powerful than necessary to take out modern electronics across earth. It was later revised to a “whopping” x-45.

These events occur quite regularly in the grand scheme. Recent observations suggest at least several occurrences in a lifetime. For the last hundred years since electronics made their way into our society we’ve been lucky, having experienced just minor disturbances.

But as the last decade shows, it can happen at any time and the after-effects would be catastrophic.

This is what prompted Senior Member of the House Homeland Security Committee Congresswoman Yvette Clarke to warn that the likelihood of a severe geo-magnetic event capable of crippling our electric grid is 100%.

Despite the various earthbound threats that exist, a solar flare is arguably the most probable threat we face as a civilization.

As Congressman Roscoe Bartlett has noted in the documentary Urban Danger, if an event of this magnitude hit earth we’d revert back to the stone age overnight:

We could have events in the future where the power grid will go down and it’s not, in any reasonable time, coming back up. For instance, if when the power grid went down some of our large transformers were destroyed, damaged beyond use, we don’t make any of those in this country. They’re made overseas and you order one and 18 months to two years later they will deliver it. Our power grid is very vulnerable. It’s very much on edge. Our military knows that.

So how does one survive such an event, where pretty much everything we have come to expect in our just-in-time modern society comes to a screeching halt within seconds of the disaster striking?

It won’t be easy, but it is certainly survivable, and if you’ve developed a broad preparedness plan you would fair much better then the 90% of people who studies say wouldn’t make it in such a scenario.

Imagine for just a moment what would be going through your mind and the minds of those with whom you share this report if sunspot AR1944 had emitted an X-25+ Class solar flare that was heading for earth right now and that it would be here within 48 hours. 

Would you be prepared for what happens when the national power grid collapses? Would you be ready for the catastrophe that would follow within a matter of hours?

Preparedness for such an event starts with a simple grid-down supply. Once those basics are covered and you have enough to keep your family afloat for two weeks, you could broaden your preparedness horizons with long-term food storageemergency medical suppliesgold and silver as bartering currencies, and self defense strategiesto protect against the inevitable hordes that would follow.

The threat is real. Countless officials and experts have warned of the possibility in our lifetimes.

What if tomorrow was the day?