It seems like Monday is going to be a big day for astronomy.
“Significant” discoveries regarding exoplanets, or planets outside of our solar system, will be announced by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Monday, Sept. 12. The results were obtained with the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), a release stated. HARPS is the spectrograph on a 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile.
What is this announcement? Has the ESO found proof of water on another planet? According to Space.com, ESO scientists “are actively involved in the search for potentially habitable alien planets — those on which liquid water, and perhaps life as we know it, could exist.”
Space Oddities has found that in 2009, the ESO redefined the orbit of a planet called “Gliese 581 d” and placed it within the habitable zone, where oceans could exist. That discovery was also due to information provided by HARPS.
From the 2009 release:
The new observations have revealed that this planet is in the habitable zone, where liquid water could exist. ‘d’ could even be covered by a large and deep ocean — it is the first serious ‘water world’ candidate.
It has been three years since that news. Is the announcement related?
There are other indications that the announcement will deal with the discovery of water on an exoplanet. Dr. Francesco Pepe of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland was part of the team that found the “earth-like” exoplanet in 2009. He’s also part of the team that will make the major announcement Monday morning.
This is exciting!