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A second planet might orbit the closest star to the sun, and astronomers think it's a super-Earth – Business Insider

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The closest star to the sun might have a second planet in its orbit.

Proxima Centauri is our nearest neighboring star; it’s just 4.2 light-years away. It has one planet that astronomers know of, a potentially habitable world called Proxima b.

But in a new study, researchers from Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics report that they have observed changes in the star’s activity that indicate it could have another planet. They dubbed the world Proxima c in their paper, which was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

The potential new planet seems to be a super-Earth – the term for a planet with a mass larger than Earth but significantly smaller than the ice giant Neptune.

„Proxima Centauri is the nearest star to the sun, and this detection would make it the closest planetary system to us,“ astronomer Mario Damasso, the paper’s lead author, told Business Insider in an email.

Proxima c (if it exists) is probably not habitable – given its distance from its star, the planet is probably freezing or shrouded in a suffocating hydrogen-helium atmosphere. But its proximity to us could offer a unique opportunity to study another star system.

Proxima c could be a super-Earth in an unexpected place

Foto: An artist’s illustration of Earth-sized planets.sourceNASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech)

If it’s real, Proxima c should not exist where it is.

Astronomers think super-Earths form around the „snowline“: the closest distance to a star where water can become ice. That’s because icy solids accumulate in that region when a star system is in its infancy, helping to form planets.

Proxima c is far beyond that snowline, though, so its existence could challenge that theory.

snowline star planetary system

Foto: An artist’s impression of the water snowline around a young star.sourceA. Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF)/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

Then again, researchers still aren’t sure whether planet exists at all.

The team discovered Proxima c using a technique called radial velocity. It works like this: Planets tug slightly on their stars as they orbit. When the star’s position moves, even in this small way, it changes the colors of its light. If those changes are cyclical, that suggests the cause is an orbiting planet.

radial velocity exoplanet detection method

Foto: The radial velocity technique involves watching stars for changes in the color of their light. That could indicate a star is moving slightly as a planet orbits it.sourceNASA

Damasso’s team identified this type of cyclical change in Proxima Centauri’s light, and determined that it is unrelated to the movements of the planet Proxima b.

That suggested the presence of another planet, though Damasso said the researchers still „cannot discard the possibility that the signal is actually due to the activity of the star.“

So the team hopes to find more clues in data from the Gaia space telescope.

Help from Gaia and James Webb

Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way

Foto: An artist’s illustration of the Gaia space telescope observing the Milky Way.sourceESA

The Gaia telescope launched in December 2013 with the ambitious goal of making a 3D map of the galaxy.

„Gaia is still observing, and we calculated in its final data release there will be enough data to confirm or disprove the existence of Proxima c,“ Fabio Del Sordo, a co-author of the paper and an astrophysicist at the University of Crete in Greece, told Business Insider via email.

The next release of Gaia’s data is planned for this summer, followed by another in 2021. The timeline for the full data release has not yet been announced.

While Damasso and Del Sordo wait for that, they’re working with another team to scan photos of Proxima Centauri in search of signs of a second orbiting planet.

„Direct imaging may give results in a shorter time, but it cannot give a definitive answer,“ Del Sordo said. „In other words, if we will not see anything in the image, it doesn’t necessarily mean Proxima c does not exist.“

Another telescope, NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), could help researchers answer these questions, too.

James Webb telescope

Foto: The primary mirror of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, consisting of 18 hexagonal mirrors, in the clean room of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, October 28, 2016.sourceNASA/Chris Gunn

The telescope is slated to launch in March 2021, equipped with a 21-foot-wide beryllium mirror and new infrared technology to make it sensitive to longer wavelengths of infrared light.

That could help astronomers study nearby stars and, specifically, Proxima c, in great detail.

„It will surely be a target for JWST, but since the planet is likely very cold, we do not know if JWST will be able to detect it,“ Del Sordo said.

Even if James Webb can’t spot Proxima c, its neighboring planet, Proxima b, will be a prime target.

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Newfoundland and Labrador premier tries to allay border fears – SaltWire Network

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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —

Peter Jackson

Local Journalism Iniative Reporter

peter.jackson@thetelegram.com

@pjackson_nl

As controversy continues to swirl around the prospect of opening Canada’s domestic borders, Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier and health minister are striving to allay fears.

On Wednesday, the premier fielded questions about a date that was tossed out last month around the same time the province announced it was joining an Atlantic bubble.

The opening of Atlantic regional borders, which allows permanent residents of all four provinces to travel freely without self-isolating, took effect July 3.

But Dwight Ball said a proposed opening of all provincial borders on July 17 has not been part of recent discussions.

“We know that around the province right now there’s considerable fear in opening up those borders,” he said this week. “We recognize from a Newfoundland and Labrador perspective that the areas that will line up and have more travellers come into our province would be from provinces like Alberta, provinces like Ontario.”

However, he said there has been talk lately about when, or even if, that may happen.

“First and foremost, I can assure people in Newfoundland and Labrador, it will be the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that will be the priority and will be what will influence the decision made by all of us before we ease any more travel restrictions.”

Ban not total

Ball also touched on a common misconception about travel into and out of the province since a travel ban was implemented on May 15. At least 8,000 exemptions have been granted to non-residents, for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t include the fact that residents are free to travel outside the province and return again.

“Keep in mind we have a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that leave the province and go visit families in Alberta and Ontario and other places,” he said. “They can leave. There’s no restriction on leaving. The restriction is when they come back.”

Any person arriving from outside the Atlantic bubble, including those who’ve passed through the region from elsewhere, are still required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The premier also clarified that five new cases in P.E.I. last weekend stemmed from a U.S. citizen who had arrived legally in Halifax and was picked up by family members from P.E.I. The island province turned him back at its border, so he returned to self-isolate in Halifax. Another P.E.I. resident was confirmed positive on Thursday, stemming from the same cluster.

“I think the officials within all of the Maritime provinces — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. — will clearly say and articulate that what happened with this traveller was not at all connected to the Atlantic bubble,” Ball said.

New Brunswick also reported one new case on Thursday, stemming from travel.

Air travel

Meanwhile, a nursing professor at Memorial University had some thoughts this week on the safety of flying with strangers as airlines start filling planes again.

The issue made headlines last weekend when a Halifax man decided to walk off a plane rather than fly in close quarters with passengers from outside the Atlantic bubble.

“I have mixed feelings about airplanes, and I travel a lot,” Donna Moralejo, who specializes in infection control, said in an interview.

Moralejo said the air in a plane is actually safer than most households because of built-in filtration systems. But surface contacts must be avoided, and close proximity means masks are essential.

“It’s probably not as unsafe as it sounds, given the airflow, but it’s less than ideal, especially on longer flights,” she said.

Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering health for The Telegram.

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Newfoundland and Labrador premier tries to allay border fears – The Telegram

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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —

Peter Jackson

Local Journalism Iniative Reporter

peter.jackson@thetelegram.com

@pjackson_nl

As controversy continues to swirl around the prospect of opening Canada’s domestic borders, Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier and health minister are striving to allay fears.

On Wednesday, the premier fielded questions about a date that was tossed out last month around the same time the province announced it was joining an Atlantic bubble.

The opening of Atlantic regional borders, which allows permanent residents of all four provinces to travel freely without self-isolating, took effect July 3.

But Dwight Ball said a proposed opening of all provincial borders on July 17 has not been part of recent discussions.

“We know that around the province right now there’s considerable fear in opening up those borders,” he said this week. “We recognize from a Newfoundland and Labrador perspective that the areas that will line up and have more travellers come into our province would be from provinces like Alberta, provinces like Ontario.”

However, he said there has been talk lately about when, or even if, that may happen.

“First and foremost, I can assure people in Newfoundland and Labrador, it will be the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that will be the priority and will be what will influence the decision made by all of us before we ease any more travel restrictions.”

Ban not total

Ball also touched on a common misconception about travel into and out of the province since a travel ban was implemented on May 15. At least 8,000 exemptions have been granted to non-residents, for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t include the fact that residents are free to travel outside the province and return again.

“Keep in mind we have a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that leave the province and go visit families in Alberta and Ontario and other places,” he said. “They can leave. There’s no restriction on leaving. The restriction is when they come back.”

Any person arriving from outside the Atlantic bubble, including those who’ve passed through the region from elsewhere, are still required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The premier also clarified that five new cases in P.E.I. last weekend stemmed from a U.S. citizen who had arrived legally in Halifax and was picked up by family members from P.E.I. The island province turned him back at its border, so he returned to self-isolate in Halifax. Another P.E.I. resident was confirmed positive on Thursday, stemming from the same cluster.

“I think the officials within all of the Maritime provinces — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. — will clearly say and articulate that what happened with this traveller was not at all connected to the Atlantic bubble,” Ball said.

New Brunswick also reported one new case on Thursday, stemming from travel.

Air travel

Meanwhile, a nursing professor at Memorial University had some thoughts this week on the safety of flying with strangers as airlines start filling planes again.

The issue made headlines last weekend when a Halifax man decided to walk off a plane rather than fly in close quarters with passengers from outside the Atlantic bubble.

“I have mixed feelings about airplanes, and I travel a lot,” Donna Moralejo, who specializes in infection control, said in an interview.

Moralejo said the air in a plane is actually safer than most households because of built-in filtration systems. But surface contacts must be avoided, and close proximity means masks are essential.

“It’s probably not as unsafe as it sounds, given the airflow, but it’s less than ideal, especially on longer flights,” she said.

Peter Jackson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering health for The Telegram.

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4 thriller objects spotted in deep room, compared with nearly anything at any time seen – haveeruonline

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Astronomers are baffled about 4 objects that were noticed in deep room by a enormous radio telescopes, stories mentioned.

LiveScience.com documented on Thursday that the highly circular objects that appear vibrant alongside the edges had been found when astronomers reviewed archival info from radio telescopes in Australia and India.

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Kristine Spekkens, an astronomer from the Royal Military services College or university of Canada and Queen’s College, told the science internet site that the objects look to be a little something not nevertheless probed.

“It could also be that these are an extension of earlier known course of objects that we have not been in a position to discover,” she claimed. Researchers have referred to the objects as ORCs, or “odd radio circles.”

The Australian astronomers in the study noted that the objects ended up uncovered though functioning on the Evolutionary Map of the Universe Pilot, an all-sky continuum study, working with a square kilometer array pathfinder telescope.

The objects ended up described as circular, “edge-brightened discs.” They do not “correspond to any recognized style of object.” Two of them are reasonably close together, which could point out some relation. Two also attribute “an optical galaxy in the vicinity of the center of the radio emission.”

“We speculate that they could represent a spherical shock wave from an more-galactic transient occasion, or the outflow, or a remnant, from a radio galaxy considered finish-on,” the experts wrote.

The scholarly papers ended up posted on Arxiv.org.

The paper lists a several possible explanations but dismisses them. They theorized that it could be a supernova remnant, galactic planetary nebula or a deal with-on star-forming galaxy or ring galaxy.

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The face-on star-forming galaxy principle, for case in point, was dashed, in part, owing to the “lack of measurable optical emission” in comparison to the radio emission.

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