Entries in Sun (2)


Transit of Venus: Planet to Cross in Front of Sun

NASA/TRACE/LMSAL(NEW YORK) -- If you look up in the sky on Tuesday you may be in for a once in a lifetime treat.

Starting at around 6:09 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Venus will start to pass in front of the sun, leaving a beauty mark-like spot on the sun.  The "Transit of Venus," as its called, will take about seven hours to complete.

According to NASA, the event is "very rare, coming in pairs separated by more than a hundred years." Tuesday's transit will be the last one seen until 2117.

Weather permitting, observers on all seven continents will be able to see the event, NASA says.  The space agency warns viewers not to see the phenomenon with their bare eyes, as it can cause permanent damage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Super-Earth Found Near Distant Star

File photo. Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Scientists have found a planet orbiting another star -- 22 light years away -- and of all the hundreds of so-called exoplanets so far discovered, this one is, lead researcher Guillem Anglada-Escude said, "the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life as we know it."

The planet is labeled GJ 667Cc, found in the constellation Scorpio. It is about five times more massive than Earth. It orbits its host star in only 28 of our days -- as opposed to earth's 365.

But that star is smaller and dimmer than our sun, and most of the light it emits is infrared. Anglada-Escude says it would provide just the right amount of warmth for the planet to be temperate like ours.

"Other proposed candidates [to be watery worlds] would require very special conditions to support liquid water," Anglada-Escude said in an email to ABC News.

The temperature, he said, is probably right regardless of the planet's atmosphere or cloud cover: "This one lies within the zone where no further assumptions (or fine tuning) are required."

Water is common in the universe -- but as ice or vapor, not flowing water that scientists say would probably be necessary for life as we know it. Comets, for instance, have been called "dirty snowballs," and when they get close to the sun they develop gaseous tails. But the temperature range for flowing water -- the liquid you would find in the cells of a living organism -- is very small. Earth is the only planet we know of with the right temperature and atmospheric pressure.

Anglada-Escude and Paul Butler led the research at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington. They and a dozen colleagues are publishing their work in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

They report they found the planet by looking through telescope data collected by HARPS, a rival group of planet hunters in Europe. Anglada-Escude said the HARPS group had observed the star three years ago -- but missed the planet.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio