Astronomers have found another planet just outside our solar system, which could be in just the right spot of its star orbit to support life.
Exoplanet discoveries are nothing new as of recent, but Ross 128 b is different. At about 150% the mass of Earth, it has been found orbiting around the red dwarf, a smaller, dimmer star than our sun. What’s special is this planet could be in the star’s habitable zone - where the temperature is just right, meaning liquid water could pool on the surface.
The team, led by Xavier Bonfils, an astronomer at the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics in Grenoble, France have been looking at this planet for the past decade!
And it’s just 11 lightyears away. Okay, I know, that’s ridiculous when thought about (6.466e+13 miles to be precise). But when compared to other discoveries, Ross becomes the second closet potentially habitable planet to Earth - the first being Proxima B, a rocky planet that orbits Proxima Centauri (the closest star to our solar system).
However, while Proxima is technically in the “habitable zone,” Centauri is not a friendly star - pelting its planets with high-energy flares and rapidly altering the temperatures of surrounding planets.
Life doesn’t work with a wildly altering landscape like that. Life prefers stability, with only steady changes. And since the red dwarf is such an inactive star for the planet to orbit, astronomers are getting excited about this being a prime candidate in the search for extraterrestrial life!
The planet is about 20 times closer to its star than the Earth is to the Sun - but this is balanced out as the star is 280 times less luminous. Based on how much light is reflect back into space off the planet, that means the planet could be just perfect for supporting all kinds of life. In fact, scientists are confident this would be the best candidate yet in the search for alien life.
Let’s see what the future holds!
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.