Astronomers are buzzing about the discovery of a nearby exoplanet that's about the same size as our home planet and with similar temperatures.
The ESO said it had discovered the planet, Ross 128b, orbiting a star within the constellation of Virgo and it is comparatively "close" at just 11 light years outside the Solar System. Ross 128 b is 20 times closer to its star than Earth, taking a mere 9.9 days to complete one orbit.
An added bonus is that Ross 128b is also the closest planet yet discovered that orbits a rather quiet, inactive red dwarf star, which may increase the chances that this planet could potentially sustain life.
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The U.S. space agency says that discoveries like Ross 128 b are how it plans to answer the question regarding if there is another Earth out there? The planet, known as Ross 128b, may have surface temperatures amenable to life as we know it, the researchers announced in a new study that will appear in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. But Proxima b orbits another Red Dwarf star that is much more active, so the planet is likely exposed to more radiation. "In the meantime, we need to better constrain theoretical models to elucidate if liquid water can be found on Ross 128 b's surface".
Artist's impression of the planet Ross 128 b.
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Astronomers have discovered a world 11 light-years away that may have a surface temperature similar to Earth's. Scientists say a planet needs temperatures between -60°C and +20°C to be considered temperate. Ross 128 emits just half the energy of the sun.
Its most recent discovery came in early 2017 and featured an impressive 10 new planets all of which fall within the "goldilocks zone".
Alongside the ESA, NASA's Kepler space telescope has also been hunting for exoplanets and since 2009 has found some 30 planets that fall within their host star's habitable zone. The seven-billion-year-old star's rotation has slowed through the years, meaning it doesn't subject Ross 128b to powerful stellar flares like younger, faster-spinning stars do.
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The planet, Ross 128b, orbits a red dwarf star.
They're not flawless though as they can intermittently give off vast solar flares that will bathe everything in its path in deadly radiation. With the latest technology, it takes about 141,000 years to reach this planet. As a result, this "reflex motion" velocity is much easier to spot. "It is common that stars harbor more than a single planet", Astudillo-Defru told Futurism. 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. If we have, it'll not only offer the potential to see what another planet like our own looks like - but potentially to meet the aliens that live there, or to move there ourselves.
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