Close new Earth-size world, where year lasts under 10 days

Close new Earth-size world, where year lasts under 10 days

Scientist have discovered a nearby Earth-like exoplanet with conditions favorable to life. The Ross 128 planet is only about 4.5 million miles from the star, much closer than the 93 million miles between Earth and the sun.

The new planet was discovered by an global team of astronomers using the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) at the La Silla Observatory in the high desert of Chile.

But these are comparatively hard to detect; most of the 3,500 known exoplanets are so-called Hot Jupiters - huge gas giants orbiting very close to their parent stars that likely don't have suitable conditions for life.

Meanwhile, Ross 128, the host star of Ross 128 b, is an exceptionally quiet star.

More news: IPhone X Face ID Hack Demoed by Vietnam Researcher

Ross 128 b is very near its star, thus the short orbit. The new world has the designation Ross 128 b and is now the second-closest temperate planet to be detected after Proxima b. Other stars, such as the nearby Proxima Centauri, which also has an Earth-like planet orbiting it, have a tendency to spit out intense flares that contain deadly ultraviolet radiation and X-rays and that could erode planets' atmospheres.

Such conditions could potentially support liquid water, indispensable to life as we know it.

All of that, combined with the fact that Ross 128 is such an inactive star, makes this planet a prime candidate in the search for extraterrestrial life.

Astronomers have also discovered that Ross 128 b is roughly the same size as Earth and may have a similar temperature on its surface, though more observation is needed. 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.

More news: Change will be a Constant in Star Wars Battlefront II

Bonfils said Ross 128 appears to be at least 5 billion years old - older than our solar system - and perhaps as old as 10 billion years. That's why they're sticking to calling the planet "temperate" for now, until they can determine whether it's actually within a habitable zone or just on the cusp.

"Those flares can sterilize the atmosphere of the planet", said Xavier Bonfils of the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics in Grenoble, France, lead author of a paper describing the planet.

We won't know for sure what kind of atmosphere this planet has until we look at it directly, and that may not happen for a while.

A newly discovered Earth-sized planet that "could potentially sustain life" is poised to become Earth's closest stellar neighbor in a cosmic "blink of the eye", scientists at the European Southern Observatory announced in a press release Wednesday.

More news: Oklahoma woman who married mother after two 'hit it off' pleads guilty

The exoplanet orbits a red dwarf star called Ross 128, the same star that scientists thought they had caught sending out weird radio signals earlier this year. Then came the seven Earth-sized worlds orbiting TRAPPIST-1, a star 39 light-years away, three of which are in the habitable zone. "For now we will continue to monitor the star to search for additional companions", wrote Astudillo-Defru.

Related Articles