Volunteers from the Planet hunters.org website, part of the Oxford University-led Zooniverse project, have discovered 15 new plants – missed by professional astronomers – orbiting in the zones of other stars where it is considered life may be possible.
Added to the 19 similar planets already discovered in so-called habitable zones, where the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water, this new find points to a possible ‘traffic jam’ of strange worlds that could support life, it was reported in the online journal Science Daily.
The new possible planets were found by Planethunters.org volunteers, who did not see the planets directly but looked for a telltale dip in brightness as planets pass their parent stars.
After follow up work was done by the Keck telescope in Hawaii, one of the 15 planet candidates – Jupiter sized and orbiting a sun like star – has been confirmed with 99.9% certainty as a planet. It’s been named as PH2 b and is the second planet to be found by planethunters.org.
“There is an obsession with finding earth-like planets but what we are discovering with planets such as PHs b is far stranger. Jupiter has several large-rich water moons. If such a planet had earth size moons, we’d see worlds with rivers, lakes and all sorts of habitats – a surprising scenario that might just be common,” Said Dr. Chris Lintott of Oxford University and the leader of Zooniverse.
Professor Debra Fisher of Yale University emphasized the importance of the work of the volunteers: “We are seeing the emergence of a new era in the planet Hunters project where our volunteers seem to be at least as efficient as the computer algorithms at finding planets orbiting at habitable zone distances from the host stars.”