Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy
Caption: Mysteries about controversial signals coming from a dwarf star considered to be a prime target in the search for extraterrestrial life now have been solved in research led by scientists at Penn State University. The scientists have proven, for the first time, that some of the signals, which were suspected to be coming from two planets orbiting the star at a distance where liquid water could potentially exist, actually are coming from events inside the star itself, not from so-called "Goldilocks planets" where conditions are just right for supporting life. The study is published by the journal Science in its early online Science Express edition on July 3, 2014, and also in a later print edition of the journal. This image shows the location of the three planets remaining in 2014 after a series of studies since 2004. Research published in 2014, led by Penn State astronomers, shows that two of the signals previously attributed to planets in the habitable zone are actually created by activity within the star itself. The outer (green) planet shown in a companion image dated 2010 also is believed not to exist, based on work by other researchers since 2010. Blue indicates candidate planets in the habitable zone where conditions might be able to support life, orange indicates detections in the too-hot region that is too close to the star.
Credit: NASA/Penn State University
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Related news release: Controversial clues of 2 'Goldilocks planets' that might support life are proven false