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Scientists discover 'nearby' Earth-like planet that could potentially support life

Scientists discover 'nearby' Earth-like planet that could potentially support life”

Researchers say Ross 128b could potentially harbour life, as it has a similar mass to that of Earth - a multiple of 1.35 - and "its surface temperature could equally be close to that of Earth".

That's according to findings by astronomers at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla site in Chile, which discovered the exoplanet using the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) instrument.

Astronomers are planning to use cutting-edge, next-generation observatories to search for evidence of biological life in the atmospheres of select Earth-sized, temperate exoplanets orbiting red dwarf stars. The image below shows the habitable zone calculations for an A-type star (a star much more luminous than Sol), a sun-like star, and an M-class star (red dwarf). Those wobbles shift stars' spectrums, and by tracking these shifts, HARPS can infer planets are present. However, Bonfils stressed that "it's not the only potentially habitable planet we've detect this year - just the closest one".

Another tantalizing planet has been found outside our Solar System: an Earth-sized world that's our cosmic next-door neighbor - and it could be in just the right spot to host life.

This is one of the reasons that Proxima b could be inhospitable to the evolution of extraterrestrial life. Determining whether the planet is actually capable of supporting life as we know it, however, would require a better understanding of its atmosphere, Bonfils said.

"The presence of a planet in Ross 128 is a fortunate result for our research and we plan to continue observing this star", he told International Business Times. But this star is also 280 times less luminous than our Sun, so Ross 128 b only receives about 40 percent more light than Earth does. But Proxima b's parent star, Proxima Centauri, blasts out a lot of powerful flares, potentially bathing that planet in enough radiation to stunt the emergence and evolution of life, scientists have said. "Restricting the target list to quiet stars would disqualify Proxima Cen b and leave Ross 128 b as the best temperate planet known to date".

Many of them throw out intense bursts of radiation and solar wind that would fry anything that tried to live on planets supported by them. "Ross 128 is one of the quietest stars of our sample and, although it is a little further away from us (2.6x), it makes for an excellent alternative target".

The big question: Is Ross 128 b habitable?

While Ross 128b is considered to be a "temperate" planet, astronomers are still not certain where it lies in relation to its star's habitable zone.

Third, the planet may sit within the habitable zone of its host star.

It may seem like an out-of-this-world claim, but if there was ever a place that could support life - whether that be alien or Earthling, sometime in the future - this appears to be it.

Earlier this year, by the way, radio astronomers detected a unusual signal that seemed to be emanating from Ross 128.



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