Why red dwarfs could reveal first Earth-like planets

Earth-like planet

Red dwarfs are relatively common, cool stars that are less than half the size of the Sun. Because of their size, it should be easy to spot orbiting planets as they pass in front of the stars. For instance, a planet twice the size of Earth, orbiting in a star’s habitable zone at a distance of up to 8 AU, should reduce the luminosity of its host by up to 5 per cent as it transits.  That’s well within reach of many terrestrial scopes.

Which is why a group at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have begun a systematic survey of the 2000 or so red dwarfs nearby.

The plan is to use 8 different 4o cm robotic scopes  to search the entire ensemble of red dwarfs for signs of habitable planets. Any found will then become among the most heavily studied objects in the cosmos

So although a number of space-based telescopes will be launched in the coming years to look for Earth-like planets around other stars, there’s a good chance the first discovery will be made a lot more cheaply using ground-based telescopes.

Keep ’em peeled for more on this.

Ref:  arxiv.org/abs/0807.1316:  The MEarth Project: Searching for Transiting Habitable Super-Earths around Nearby M-dwarfs

3 Responses to “Why red dwarfs could reveal first Earth-like planets”

  1. […] Read the full arXiv paper Original source: arXivblog.com […]