Scientists spotted Earth-like planet, potentially capable of harboring life

Scientists spotted Earth-like planet, potentially capable of harboring life

Scientists spotted Earth-like planet, potentially capable of harboring life

But what's remarkable about Ross 128 is that it is especially calm and comfortable - it doesn't seem to be given to such outbursts, meaning that the chance of supporting life on the planet is vastly increased.

The newly discovered world, called Ross 128b, is orbiting a red dwarf star 11 light-years away from Earth - but is getting nearer every day.

It's the closest temperate planet to be discovered after Proxima b, which is about 4 light-years away.

Bonfils and his colleagues found Ross 128b using the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), an instrument at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory in Chile. Based on the data, the team estimated that the imaginatively-named exoplanet Ross 128 b orbits its star at the equivalent of one twentieth the distance between the Earth and Sun.

There's still uncertainty about whether Ross 128 b is within the habitable zone, but scientists say that with temperatures of between -60 and +20°C, it can be considered temperate.

They must find oxygen to figure out if it could be a good host planet for human colonisation or whether life already exists there. So why is Ross 128 b unique - apart from its rather human-sounding name?

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An artist's conception shows the planet Ross 128b, with its red dwarf parent star in the background. The wobbles are caused by the gravitational pull of the unseen planet. "For now we will continue to monitor the star to search for additional companions", wrote Astudillo-Defru.

An global team of astronomers has discovered a temperate Earth-sized world with the potential to harbor alien life. Abel Méndez, the director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at Arecibo, nicknamed them "the Weird!"

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. This exoplanet revolves around an inactive red dwarf star - which is important for that temperature part. The star is moving toward us, and will overtake Proxima Centauri as the closest sun to ours in about 79,000 years.

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. Méndez's team wasn't looking for extraterrestrial signals; they were hoping to learn how red dwarf flares interacted with exoplanets. 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. "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". The signals had a frequency around 5 gigahertz, right in the middle of the 1-to-15-gigahertz range targeted by typical SETI searches.

None of the telescopes heard anything. The instrument has helped discover dozens of exoplanets. 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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