Paris - A new extrasolar system planet can be added to a handful of fellow exoplanets which could theoretically support life, the European Southern Observatory said on Wednesday. Another good news is that the planet is located quite close to us, compared to the other such planets that have been discovered so far, at just 11 light years outside the solar System. NASA explains that while Ross 128 b and Proxima b are in the habitable zone and seem similar to Earth, Venus and Mars would feature numerous same qualities from 11 light years away.
The ESO reports that its High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) instrument was what discovered Ross 128 b. Ross 128 b also orbits a red dwarf, but its star is much less active, so the surface of the planet is likely more temperate. But researchers have more work to do before they can say whether life really is possible on Ross 128 b.
This artist's impression shows the temperate planet Ross 128 b, with its red dwarf parent star in the background. But while scientists do believe that it is, in fact, a temperate planet, there's still no confirmation that it lies within the habitable zone, which is the zone surrounding a star in which liquid water is able to exist. There aren't really any telescopes available right now that can see Ross 128 b directly. However, it's not likely to be a place for humans to live as it orbits a much younger, more powerful red dwarf star that is likely roasting the planet into an inferno. "For now, we will continue to monitor the star to search for evidence of additional companions".
An worldwide team of astronomers has discovered a temperate Earth-sized world with the potential to harbor alien life. But the star's low temperature should give the planet a temperature between -60 and 20 degrees Celsius (-76 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit). Abel Méndez, the director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at Arecibo, nicknamed them "the Weird!"
While Ross 128 b shares two very important characteristics with Earth, little else about it is familiar to us.
Just being in the habitable zone, however, doesn't guarantee Ross 128 b is actually habitable.
The habitable zone of a red dwarf - the narrow temperature belts where surface water can persist without freezing or boiling away - is usually quite close to the star. As astronomers paid more attention, they began realizing that Proxima Centauri, like many red dwarfs, was probably incredibly active in its youth, spewing intense amounts of stellar radiation that would have nearly certainly bludgeoned the small planet. That's a red dwarf - a type of sun that offers hope to scientists looking for exoplanets, but comes with some caveats. "They list all the close encounters with other stars, and because of the relative movements of stars and the Sun, it results that Ross 128 will be our closest star". So in July, Arecibo, the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array, and the Green Bank Telescope listened again. A subsequent analysis by Breakthrough Listen, accepted for publication in the International Journal of Astrobiology, concluded the signal Méndez's team saw probably came from one of several geostationary satellites in the direction of Ross 128. But at 10.89 light years away, this may be the best candidate we've yet found for viable life - and it's parked in our own backyard. Nevertheless, the announcement is just one more reason to get excited about new observatories like the Giant Magellan Telescope and Europe's Extremely Large Telescope.
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