PARIS - Tau Ceti, one of our closest stars, is a good candidate for hosting an Earth-like planet, astronomers reported on Wednesday.
The quest is to find a rocky planet that is not only close to the mass of Earth but is also located in the so-called “Goldilocks zone”. This is an orbital distance from the star where temperature is neither too hot nor too cold, but just right to sustain liquid water, which is essential for life as we know it.
The Tau Ceti finding was made by astronomers from Australia, Britain, Chile and the United States, who applied a new technique to filter data from more than 6,000 observations. By doing so, they believe they rooted out distorting signals, called “noise”, that masked the existence of low-mass planets. They applied the technique to light from Tau Ceti, where they determine it is not a lone star but in fact one with a planetary system, they said.
“This discovery is in keeping with our emerging view that virtually every star has planets, and that the galaxy must have many such potentially habitable Earth-sized planets,” said Steve Vogt, a veteran exoplanet-hunter. “We are now beginning to understand that Nature seems to overwhelmingly prefer systems that have multiple planets with orbits of less than one hundred days,” he said in a press release published by Britain’s University of Hertfordshire.