The guts of Tracktion are now open source for devs to make new stuff


Game developers have Unreal Engine and Unity Engine. Well, now it’s audio’s turn. Tracktion Engine is an open source engine based on the guts of a major DAW, but created as a building block developers can use for all sorts of new music and audio tools.

You can new music apps not only for Windows, Mac, and Linux (including embedded platforms like Raspberry Pi), but iOS and Android, too. And while developers might go create their own DAW, they might also build other creative tools for performance and production.

The tutorials section already includes examples for simple playback, independent manipulation of pitch and time (meaning you could conceivably turn this into your own DJ deck), and a step sequencer.

We’ve had an open source DAW for years – Ardour. But this is something different – it’s clear the developers have created this with the intention of producing a reusable engine for other things, rather than just dumping the whole codebase for an entire DAW.

Okay, my Unreal and Unity examples are a little optimistic – those are friendly to hobbyists and first-time game designers. Tracktion Engine definitely needs you to be a competent C++ programmer.

But the entire engine is delivered as a JUCE module, meaning you can drop it into an existing project. JUCE has rapidly become the go-to for reasonably painless C++ development of audio tools across plug-ins and operating systems and mobile devices. It’s huge that this is available in JUCE.

Even if you’re not a developer, you should still care about this news. It could be a sign that we’ll see more rapid development that allows music loving developers to try out new ideas, both in software and in hardware with JUCE-powered software under the hood. And I think with this idea out there, if it doesn’t deliver, it may spur someone else to try the same notion.

I’ll be really interested to hear if developers find this is practical in use, but here’s what they’re promising developers will be able to use from their engine:

A wide range of supported platforms (Windows, macOS, Linux, Raspberry Pi, iOS and Android)
Tempo, key and time-signature curves
Fast audio file playback via memory mapping
Audio editing including time-stretching and pitch shifting
MIDI with quantisation, groove, MPE and pattern generation
Built-in and external plugin support for all the major formats
Parameter adjustments with automation curves or algorithmic modifiers
Modular plugin patching Racks
Recording with punch, overdub and loop modes along with comp editing
External control surface support
Fully customizable rendering of arrangements

The licensing is also stunningly generous. The code is under a GPLv3 license – meaning if you’re making a GPLv3 project (including artists doing that), you can freely use the open source license.

But even commercial licensing is wide open. Educational projects get forum support and have no revenue limit whatsoever. (I hope that’s a cue to academic institutions to open up some of their licensing, too.)

Personal projects are free, too, with revenue up to US$50k. (Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but many small developers are below that threshold.)

For $35/mo, with a minimum 12 month commitment, “indie” developers can make up to $200k. Enterprise licensing requires getting in touch, and then offers premium support and the ability to remove branding. They promise paid licenses by next month.

Check out their code and the Tracktion Engine page:

I think a lot of people will be excited about this, enough so that … well, it’s been a long time. Let’s Ballmer this.

from Create Digital Music

Man’s Selfie Saves Him From Allegations Of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend That Would’ve Resulted In 99 Years In Prison



A Texas man facing 99 years of prison time was exonerated by the sheer power of a selfie.

Police showed up at 21-year-old Christopher Precopia’s work at a lumberyard in Georgetown, Texas in September of 2017 and threw him in cuffs for burglary with the intent to commit other crimes. A felony.

“I had no idea why everything was happening, and I was lost,” Chris told KVUE.

Precopia was hauled off to the Williamson County Jail where he was only released after his parents posted a $150,000 bail. All the while, Chris had no idea what the fuck he’d done. He was granted no interview with police to provide an alibi before he was charged, a tactic police experts would later admit to be presumptuous.

The reason he was behind bars was due to the completely fabricated story of a crazy ex-girlfriend who Chris had dated in HIGH SCHOOL. Chris couldn’t even remember when the two last had contact.

The girl, who remains unidentified because she’s not being charged with a crime, claimed that on Sept. 20, 2017 around 7:20 p.m, Chris broke into her house and sliced an “X” into her chest with a box cutter.

On the night of the alleged attack, Chris was with his mother, Erin, at a Northwest Austin hotel about 65 miles from his ex’s home. Now he needed to prove it.

Chris remembered that he had captured a selfie which he posted on Facebook and was timestamped and geo-located. A clear-cut alibi.

“Most of the time, we deal with gray matters,” attorney Rick Flores said. “It’s not normally black or white. But this is one of those cases where I could definitely prove he did not commit this offense.”

KVUE reports that Precopia’s accuser told police that the two had a rocky relationship when they dated in high school several years ago, which was why she reported that he assaulted her.

It should also be noted that when Chris met with a recruiter to enlist in the U.S. Army in October, he was rejected because of the violent crime he had been charged with last year. Since his name has been cleared, he is finally ready to move on from the incident.

“I’m ready to actually live my life, the way I want to, without having any kind of worry that this can come back and hurt me,” he said.

Moral of the story: Protect yourself from crazy. It knows no limits.


This Terrifying App That Lets You ‘Talk’ To Dead People Proves We’ve Learned Nothing From ‘Black Mirror’

talk to dead people app


Black Mirror burst onto the scene with a literal bang in 2011 thanks to a debut episode featuring the British Prime Minister getting it on with a pig on the way to establishing itself as one of the crazier shows in recent memory.

The series set out to examine the potential perils (and occasional upsides) that come with living in an increasingly technological world, and while most episodes are meant to serve as a cautionary tale, some people are just not getting the message.

Take China, which recently instituted a Social Credit System where citizens are rated based on a variety of factors— just like Bryce Dallas Howard was in “Nosedive.”

There’s also Boston Dynamics, which seems intent on making the world depicted in “Metalhead” a reality.

How about a vulgar and oddly colored political candidate whose use insults and a lack of basic civility to become immensely popular? That could never happen? Right? Right???

Oh, let’s also not forget the story claiming the actual British Prime Minister got a little too intimate with a pig when he was in college.

Every day, it seems like Black Mirror is coming closer and closer to becoming a documentary and now one company is doing what it can to bring one episode to life— and bring people back to life (well, kind of).

According to Business Insider, a tech firm called “Eternime” has set out to develop artificial intelligence that would allow people to use an app to “talk” with someone who has passed away, which is literally “Be Right Back” without the creepy doll.

Eternime is headed by Marius Ursache, who set out to figure out how to “communicate” with the dead after a friend of his passed away. He explained how the company has set out to create eternal avatars, saying:

“We collect geolocation, motion, activity, health app data, sleep data, photos, messages that users put in the app. We also collect Facebook data from external sources.”

It then uses an ever-mysterious algorithm to create a chatbot people can talk with that is supposedly reflective of the person you were while alive.

I’m sure Ursache has good intentions but that’s going to be a no for me, dawg.


Stevie Iseral Uses Natural Light to Capture Her Subjects’ Natural Beauty


All images and text by Stevie Iseral. Used with permission.

My name is Stevie Iseral and I began taking photos at the age of fifteen. The moment I picked up my first camera, I immediately fell in love. Throughout my years of taking photos, I have tried to develop my own personal style. Being from Louisiana, there aren’t many modeling agencies available. This pushed me to challenge my skills and photograph my friends and family. I like to describe my work as dreamy, delicate, and colorful. My main goal in photography is to capture an individual’s natural beauty and help them see why they are so special. Everyone is so different, and I think it is amazing that we can capture that in a photo.

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 50 mm f1.2, and a Canon 24-105 mm f4.0. I love natural light, so I try to use that as much as I can rather than using artificial lighting. When I want a photoshoot to have a certain vibe, I will sometimes incorporate a colored light bulb to create vibrant colors.

When getting ready to take photos, I have developed a process. I gather inspiration from all over, whether it’s from Pinterest, my favorite photographers, nature, or anything really! I love to play with different makeup and hair looks to add a bit of fun to the photos. When shooting, I like to experiment with different angles and have my model move around in a natural manner. My goal is to make the photos look candid, even if they were completely posed and planned.

I think the readers would be interested in my work because it is something they can relate to. Seeing young females in a field or around the house is something we all do, so seeing it in a portfolio makes you feel like someone relates to you. Being an adolescent is tough, but sharing our creativity and our visions is so unique and  amazing. My photography is cool because I incorporate different lighting techniques, experiment with my editing, and aim to tell a story through my images.

Why did you get into photography?

I got into photography because both my sisters had dabbled in it, and I wanted to be just like them.

What photographers are your biggest influences?

I have so many favorite photographers, it’s hard to choose just a few! My main influences would have to be Sam Klegerman, Savannah Martiniere, Franney Miller, Tim Walker, and Petra Collins.

How long have you been shooting?

I have been shooting for almost five years.

Why is photography and shooting so important to you?

Photography is so important to me because it is my creative outlet. If I am ever feeling stressed or stuck, I can take photos and escape for a little bit. Photography also allows me to show the world my thoughts and visions, and I absolutely love that aspect of it.

Do you feel that you’re more of a creator or a documenter? Why?

I would say I am more of a creator because I am constantly thinking up new shoots and concepts all the time. I try to make my photos have a certain look and style so they are my own. I want my photos to look like they are documenting someone in their everyday life, but in reality I created the whole scene.

What’s typically going through your mind when you create images? Tell us about your processes both mentally and mechanically.

When I am creating images, my mind is constantly running. I am thinking about what edits I can use to make the photo stand out, or what different angles I can shoot from to make the photo more interesting. I am also trying to make sure my subject is comfortable and having a good time so it can show in the images. As far as mechanically, I focus on having the shutter speed fast enough to capture movement, and the aperture wide enough to capture a shallow depth of field.

Want to walk us through your processing techniques?

My processing techniques are all over the place, because I constantly like to try new things when editing. I love to play around with split toning, I think that can give your images a very personal and distinct look. A lot of my editing is planned ahead of time. If I know I want the photo to appear glowy then I will add gloss or highlight to the subject I am shooting. If I want it to look dreamy, I will use a lens filter with some vaseline on it to blur out the edges. These little things help tremendously in post processing.

Tell us about the project that you’re pitching, or your portfolio.

My portfolio is curated with so many different looks and vibes. I aim to showcase the delicacy and dreaminess of being an adolescent female. I want to capture my friends in their natural state: talking, dancing, laughing, etc. My portfolio is filled with soft colors, dreamy edits, and beautiful young women.

What made you want to get into your genre?

I love dreamy and soft looks, and I wanted to showcase that in my pictures. Portrait photography is such a wide genre, and I love being able to push boundaries and create new and exciting content.

Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision.

I love my Canon 5D Mark III, it is so easy to operate and makes shooting a breeze. My 50mm f1.2 is my baby. I think for my particular style, the 50mm is the perfect pair. It allows me to blur my backgrounds and give the illusion I have an entire set created, when I am actually just in my bedroom.

What motivates you to shoot?

Seeing other photographers post their work really motivates me to shoot. It helps me remember how much I love to create!

Visit Stevie Iseral’s website to see more of his portrait photography.


from The Phoblographer

Cassette decks from Crosley take aim at tape-hoarding nostalgia-seekers


Crosley, makers of the “good enough” record players you see in Urban Outfitters and Target, have turned their retro novelty eye on the next obvious format: cassettes. These two new decks from the company have all the latest features from 1985, but also a handful of modern conveniences.

Let’s get one thing clear at the outset: these are certainly ridiculous. And yes, you can buy a boom box with a cassette deck right now, new, for $30 or so. But having browsed the stock I can tell you that most of them are pretty ugly. There are vintage ones too, but not all have aged well and may have unfixable issues like corrosion or motor problems.

And believe it or not, tapes are still around. People are manufacturing and recording on them because they’re fun and retro and analog. I’ve bought a few myself at shows in the last year.

So there is actually a market for a new, decent-looking, portable cassette player and radio.

The Crosley devices are pretty straightforward. There are two models; each has a big mono speaker, a single-direction deck (meaning you’ll have to flip the tape), an AM/FM radio and a built-in mic. The $60 CT100 model (top) has shortwave radio bands as well, and the capability to play music from an SD card or USB drive, while the $70 CT200 has treble and bass dials and a VU meter for easier recording of cassette-based podcasts. Both have handles.

Of the two I’d definitely go with the CT100, since presumably you can use the SD/USB player to record mixtapes of stuff you’ve downloaded. Record a little intro with the mic or pretend you’re the DJ between songs, and boom, it’s like you’re me in 1994. Plus you never know when shortwave will come in handy.

It’s silly, but it’s a silly world we live in. Silly and horrible. Maybe bringing back cassettes will help. Keep an eye out for these players wherever fake Ray-Bans plaid scarves are sold.

from TechCrunch

Holy molé: A beginner’s guide to Mexico’s heaven-sent sauce

Photo: arlosrojas20 (iStock)

In Mexican families, recipes are heirlooms being passed down from one generation to the next—and a great molé recipe is among the most treasured of gifts. In my family, my aunt is in possession of that coveted molé recipe and all I have is the bitter truth that she will likely never share it with me. That bitterness may be just enough to drive me to consider legal action in order to attain it someday, so I hope she’s reading this.

Molé is commonly referred to as Mexico’s national sauce. In fact, renowned Mexican writer/philosopher Alfonso Reyes Ochoa once said that “Molé is the pièce de resistance of our cuisine, the touchstone of cooking and eating, and to ignore molé could almost be considered an act of treason against the nation.” It should go without saying that molé is more than just a sauce; it’s a source of pride.

What do we mean by molé?

In its simplest form, molé is a rich sauce that contains four distinct groups of ingredients—chiles, sour ingredients (such as tomatillos), sweet ingredients (fruit and sugar), and thickeners (nuts or tortillas)—with chicken or turkey being the favored choice of meat. The word molé comes from the Nahuatl word, mōlli, which means sauce. Though to view molé as simply a sauce would be a disservice that would fail to underscore its complexity and range. Molé is about layering flavors; some variations are made with more than 30 ingredients. Unlike other sauces that serve as an accompaniment to proteins or rice, molé is always the centerpiece.

Where did molé come from?

Puebla and Oaxaca, the two bordering states located in the central highlands of Mexico, are the most closely associated with the origins of molé. Other states throughout Mexico have their own variations as well; the community of San Pedro Actopan even has its own molé festival that’s been running since 1977. Of the fewer than 9,000 inhabitants of that community, it’s said that almost 92 percent of the population makes a living related to the preparation and sale of the sauce.


Mexican folklore tells two tales as to the creation of the sauce. One states that 16th-century nuns, during what seems like a really intense prayer session, had a visit from an inspirational angel. The nuns then used the ingredients they had available—more than 20 of them—to create a dish for the visiting Archbishop. Needless to say, the dish was a hit and became known as molé.

The other tale goes back to pre-hispanic and, obviously, pre-Google fact-checking times. Legend has it that the Aztec emperor, Moctezuma, served molé to Hernan Cortez and his gang of conquistadors on the false belief that they were gods.

Regardless of what you believe, there’s a divinity to this sauce that can’t be left unstated.

Photo: Esdelval (iStock)

Oaxacan molés

Oaxaca is the culinary mecca of Mexico, so it’s no surprise that the most variations come from the region. There are seven distinct molés from Oaxaca, mostly named for colors:

  1. Negro: Negro is one of the most common molés. This is an extremely dark (hence its name), bitter chocolate sauce that pours thick with an equal amount of sweet and savory flavor to it. Molé negro recipes call for day-old bread as a thickener, and the sauce gives off an intoxicating aroma from the cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.
  2. Coloradito: Coloradito, which means “little red,” is on the sweeter side of the flavor spectrum from the raisins used in the sauce. Some recipes call for plantains to be used as thickener in the sauce, which also lends some residual sweetness. This molé relies solely on ancho chile and calls for a healthy amount of garlic.
  3. Verde: Made with pumpkin seeds, cilantro, and jalapenos, molé verde (green) is bright with an underlying tartness from tomatillos. Unlike other molés, verde does not use any dry chiles.
  4. Rojo: Very similar to the base ingredients as negro, rojo (red) is an amplified version of negro with a sweeter and spicier flavor profile. Rojo calls for more dried chiles—ancho, pasilla, mulato—and less chocolate.
  5. Amarillo: Unlike other moles, amarillo (yellow) doesn’t use any chocolate. The sauce has a thinner consistency than other molés, more like a viscous broth, as it isn’t reduced as long as other varieties. There’s a slight corny flavor to amarillo since traditional recipes do call for masa harina, a dried corn flour, to be incorporated into this molé. There’s a meaty flavor from the cumin and the aroma comes courtesy of the dried oregano, allspice, and cinnamon.
  6. Chichilo: Recipes for chichilo start with a rich, homemade beef stock. Chichilo also calls for the use of the chilhuacle, a small chile that is not only indigenous to Oaxaca, but has been cultivated for over 6,000 years. The chile is also used in other molés, but it’s the main one in chichilo alongside guajillo chile. Chichilo doesn’t call for chocolate but it does have aromatic herbs such as marjoram, thyme, and oregano.
  7. Manchamantel: The literal translation of manchamantel is “table-cloth staining.” Traditional manchamantel molé is made with chorizo, so the red grease from the chorizo, ancho chiles, and tomatoes all add up to a vibrant red sauce. This sauce also is made with pineapple, so it leaves the sauce a lot sweeter than its other molé counterparts.

Other molés

There are countless molés in Mexico. Many of the molés in one region are the same as those in other regions with the difference being an indigenous ingredient or two. Below are some of the most common molés I’ve encountered:


Poblano: Chances are if you had a molé in an American restaurant it was a poblano molé. Poblano is very similar to molé negro, the major difference being that the negro uses chilhuacle negro chiles. Poblano mole is considered one of Mexico’s national dishes.

Amarillito: Outside of Oaxaca, molé amarillio is referred to as amarallito. Amarallito refers to a variety of molés that get its color from yellow-ish, costeño chiles which are relatives of guajillo chiles. Where guajillo chiles tend to be mild and sweet, costeño chiles have a richer, spicier flavor.

Prieto: Molé prieto is from the state of Tlaxcala and originated as a ritual meal for Toci, the goddess of textiles and health. This pre-hispanic molé’s original ingredients were corn, venison and/or turkey. After Spanish colonization, pork became the preferred meat. Chipotle is the main chile molé prieto, so the sauce has a lingering, smokey flavor.


Ranchero: This is one of the simplest molés to make. Ranchero molé usually calls for only one type of chile, so it’s a milder sauce. In some regions of Mexico, ranchero is cooked with pulled beef; in other regions the beef is substituted with pork. Ranchero is also used in tamales in the state of Jalisco.

Rosa: Rosa molé is a pretty pink sauce that gets its color from roasted beets, but packs quite a sting from the serrano and jalapeno in the recipe. Rosa comes from Taxco in the state of Guerrero.

Pipián: Pipián is a type of molé made primarily with pumpkin or squash seeds (pepitas, hence the name) instead of other nuts like peanuts, pine nuts, or sesame seeds, which are common in other molés. Green pipian has tomatillo, onions, and pepitas to give the pipian an earthy flavor. There is also a red pipian that is made with tomatoes in place of the green tomatillos.


Almendrado: This is a popular mole from San Pedro Actopan. It’s made with almonds and various other nuts, but it has a distinct sweetness from the various fruits included in its recipe, most commonly apple.

Photo: Ariadna126 (iStock)

Molé transcends beyond just the culinary, becoming the centerpiece of and inspiration for festivals and celebrations in both Mexico and the U.S. If you need a quick molé fix but can’t get down to Mexico on a whim because your pilot and private jet happen to be imaginary, take a trip down to your local Mexican supermercado where you should be able to find some respectable options. Goya always makes solid Mexican food products, but Dona Maria is my go-to molé paste if I don’t have all day to make my molé from scratch. The original is solid, and their pipian and verde are also good options. Beware, this is mole paste, so it takes some elbow grease and time to get the molé thoroughly mixed. If you don’t have time, you’re in luck: Dona Maria also makes a ready-to-serve option.


Unless you have a lot of time, patience, and commitment, molé-making might be best left best to the professionals. But if you’re feeling adventurous, you should take a crack at making a molé that you feel would best appeal to your preferred flavors. If turns out tasty, share it with your friends, family, and co-workers—a good molé is something to be revered.

from Lifehacker

What to Do If Your Brakes Go Out


When you depress the brake pedal on your car, it pressurizes fluid in your brake lines which transmit force to your brake pads, forcing them to squeeze against your car’s wheel. The resulting friction is what brings you to a nice, comfortable stop. When your brakes fail, it’s typically because you’ve lost a substantial amount of brake fluid, or because your brake pads are incredibly worn out. The best way to deal with your brakes going out is to practice preventive maintenance on your car. Make sure to have your mechanic check your brake system whenever you go in for an oil change, or before a long trip.

If you are driving and think your brakes have failed, don’t panic. And certainly don’t just turn the car off — doing so while it’s moving could cause your steering wheel to lock. Fortunately, you’ve got other options; use the tips above to avoid an accident, slow down, and ultimately come to a safe stop.

Like this illustrated guide? Then you’re going to love our book The Illustrated Art of Manliness! Pick up a copy on Amazon.

Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

The post What to Do If Your Brakes Go Out appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

from The Art of Manliness

Drinking too much water could be surprisingly hazardous to your health

  • Drinking too much water can be unhealthy and even lead to death in extreme cases.
  • When you drink more water than your kidneys can handle, you can upset the balance of sodium levels in your blood — this is called water intoxication
  • Check out the video above to find how this imbalance can wreak havoc on your brain and body.

We couldn’t live without water. But if we drink too much, it can wreak havoc on our brain and body. Drinking more water than your kidneys can process can throw your blood sodium levels out of balance. That’s called water intoxication. And in extreme cases, it can cause brain damage, comas, and even death.

Following is a transcript of the video.

What do you think of when you hear the word poison? Arsenic? Cyanide? How about water?

Life couldn’t exist without water. But in the right circumstance… Water can be as dangerous as any poison.
Here’s what happens when you drink too much water.

Your kidneys filter out excess waste and water from your bloodstream. But they can only process 800-1,000 mL of water an hour. And if you somehow manage to drink more than that without throwing up, you can run into trouble. Because you’re drinking faster than your kidneys can process it. So the excess ends up in your cells.

Normally, your cells are surrounded by a carefully-balanced solution of sodium and water, which flows in and out through tiny holes in the cellular membrane, so it keeps the sodium concentration both in and out of the cell balanced.

But when you drink too much water, the sodium solution gets diluted. It’s not salty enough. So some of that extra water rushes into the cell to restore balance and that causes it to swell up.

Doctors call this water intoxication and it’s a big problem. Now, most of your cells can handle the swelling to a degree since soft, flexible tissue like fat and muscle can stretch.

But for the cells in your brain, it’s another story, because your skull isn’t stretchy.
It’s bone. It’s hard — like a rock.

So, as your brain swells, it builds up the pressure in your head.

At first, you might experience headaches, confusion, or drowsiness.

But as the pressure increases, you risk brain damage, coma, and even death. And it could all be over in less than ten hours.

A 64-year-old woman, for example, died the same evening after drinking between 30-40 glasses of water. And a group of US Army trainees suffered vomiting and seizes after downing over 2 liters per hour after a tough day of training.

But it’s marathon runners who need to be especially careful. A study found that 1 in 6 marathon runners develop at least mild water intoxication because the race stresses their body, including the kidneys. So, they don’t excrete water as efficiently, which can cause water to back up into the blood more easily.

People with certain kidney issues are also vulnerable since they can’t properly process water and the problem isn’t unique to water.

For example, the same thing can happen if you down too much beer at once. That’s called potomania.

The good news is that there’s an easy way to stay safe. The average healthy adult needs somewhere around 3-4 liters of water a day. And since this can come from food and other drinks too, drink when you’re thirsty, and then stop.

Join the conversation about this story »

from SAI

Astronomers found a ‘cold super-Earth’ less than 6 light-years away — and it may be the first rocky planet we’ll photograph beyond the solar system


exoplanet extrasolar planet cold super earth barnards star b gj 699 b illustration IEEC Science Wave Guillem Ramisa shutterstock

  • Astronomers think they’ve found a "cold super-Earth" exoplanet orbiting Barnard’s star.
  • Barnard’s star less than 6 light-years away from us and the closest single-star system to our sun.
  • The new world is called Barnard’s star b (or GJ 699 b) and is at least 3.2 times as massive as Earth.
  • It orbits in the "snow line" of its parent star: a region at the edge of a star’s habitable zone where scientists suspect most rocky planets form.
  • This Earth-size exoplanet may be the first to be photographed by a new generation of powerful telescopes.

Astronomers have suspected for decades that a nearby red dwarf star, called Barnard’s star, might be hiding an Earth-size planet.

On Wednesday, researchers revealed that they’ve discovered the first such exoplanet with about 99.2% certainty.

A team of dozens of scientists published the finding in the journal Nature, and said there are even hints that a second world may lurk nearby.

Barnard’s star is just 5.87 light-years away from Earth, making it the closest one-star system to us. Only Proxima Centauri, a three-star system, is closer.

What’s more, the newly discovered world is close enough to Earth — yet far enough from its blindingly bright star — to be photographed by an upcoming generation of giant telescopes.

"This is probably the first Earth-sized planet we will directly image by future missions," Abel Méndez, an astrobiologist at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo who wasn’t involved in the study, told Business Insider.

The new world is currently known as Barnard’s star b or, in other circles, GJ 699 b. The team that found it used more than 20 years of telescope observations, and that data suggests the planet is at least 3.2 times more massive than Earth and has a 233-day-long year.

The world appears to orbit in the "snow line" of Barnard’s star — a region just on the edge of the habitable zone, where liquid water can exist on the surface of a planet.

For that reason, scientists consider the possible planet to be a "cold super-Earth," and some are wondering if alien life might exist there.

What it might be like on Barnard’s star b

exoplanet extrasolar planet cold super earth barnards star b gj 699 b illustration ESO M Kornmesser

Barnard’s star is not like the sun. It’s what astronomers call an M-dwarf, which means it’s smaller, cooler (and redder), less massive, and billions of years older than our own star.

"M dwarfs are prime targets for planetary searches because they favor the detection of small [planets]," Rodrigo F. Díaz, an astrophysicist at University of Buenos Aires who wasn’t part of the research team, wrote in a Nature "News and Views" piece.

This is because M-dwarf stars are small enough to "wobble" when rocky planets orbit them. Such wobbling happens because the gravity of the planet and the star mutually tug at one another (a planet’s orbit is rarely perfectly circular). Some telescopes can detect this behavior.

Barnard’s star b took a long time to find because red dwarf stars often have sunspots, which can throw off sensitive measurements. Pooling together more than two decades of telescope observations, however, helped the research team find the signal of a presumable planet in the noise of Barnard’s star’s light.

exoplanet extrasolar planet cold super earth barnards star b gj 699 b orbits sun distance illustration IEEC Science Wave Guillem Ramisa

The newly discovered planet is about as far from its star as Mercury is from the sun. That’s fairly close. However, next to a smaller and lower-temperature star, this puts Barnard’s star b at the edge of the habitable zone.

Practically, this means the surface temperature of Barnard’s star b is likely -150 degrees Celsius. This is cold enough to freeze carbon dioxide solid into dry ice, let alone water into ice.

But bone-chilling temperatures don’t mean the exoplanet is a dead world bereft of liquid water.

Can a cold super-Earth be habitable?

europa jupiter ice moon half hemisphere 2x1 nasa jpl galileo pia19048

Although Barnard’s star b is -150 degrees, the surface of Europa — an icy moon that orbits Jupiter — is 10 degrees colder. Meanwhile, Ganymede — a smaller icy moon around Saturn — is about 20 degrees colder than that.

Yet both tiny worlds hide expansive oceans of salt water beneath their crusts, and there’s growing evidence that organic molecules are mixed into that liquid, too.

The researchers’ estimate of the new world’s temperature also assumes it has no atmosphere. But there very well could be.

"Since the planet is more massive than Earth, it may retain a hydrogen atmosphere," Sara Seager, the deputy science director for NASA’s TESS mission and an astrophysicist at MIT who wasn’t involved in the study, told Business Insider. "Hydrogen is a potent greenhouse gas and could conceivably keep the surface temperature warm enough for life, if the atmosphere pressure is high enough."

It’s not a far-fetched idea. Seager said all planets — even Earth — are born with a hydrogen atmosphere. This is because hydrogen is the dominant material in nebulas, the clouds of gas and dust out of which stars (and their planets) form.

"Assuming it has the estimated minimum mass, then it is probably a rocky or frozen ocean world with a thick atmosphere, maybe like Titan in the solar system," Méndez said.

On the other hand, 3.2 Earth masses is a minimum estimate for the new world’s size. "Its mass could be larger and therefore a mini-Neptune," Méndez added.

The first photo of a rocky exoplanet

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Astronomers have already taken photos of very large exoplanets. These worlds are akin to giant Jupiters or failed stars, though, which means they’re all extremely hot, gassy, and uninhabitable.

Future ground observatories like the European Extremely Large Telescope in Chile, or perhaps even the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii, may be able to capture a small image of Barnard’s star b.

Assuming the exoplanet does indeed exist, it may look like a tiny dot or blob in an image. But yhe data trapped in such a picture could tell scientists whether the planet is small and rocky like Earth, big and gassy like Neptune, or somewhere in between.

What’s more, some of the light that passes through or bounces off the world’s atmosphere might even be sampled for indirect signs of life. Such gases might include methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and perhaps 14,000 other so-called biosignatures.

Red dwarf stars typically blast out a lot of flares and solar storms, which can harm or destroy planetary atmospheres. They’re also very bright in ultraviolet (UV) light, which can break down biosignatures. But she says Barnard’s star, as an M dwarf, is calmer and gives off less UV light — so its presumable planet may be able to accumulate biosignatures to detectable levels.

But even if Barnard’s star b is a bust for biosignatures, future observations may find that the Earth-size world isn’t alone.

"I don’t discard the possibility of smaller Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone of Barnard’s Star. Now we know that Barnard has planets and there is plenty of space between the star and this new planet for a few small ones," Méndez said.

This story has been updated.

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from SAI