Arts&Culture

Earth-Like Planet Found By Star Where Scientists Discovered 'Alien Signals'

Earth-Like Planet Found By Star Where Scientists Discovered 'Alien Signals'”

Researchers with the European Southern Observatory announced Wednesday that the Earth-sized planet was found orbiting the star Ross 128, a red dwarf that's 11 light years away.

Whether life exists beyond Planet Earth is still a mystery - but if aliens really are out there, there's a good chance they'll be found on Ross 128b. 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.

The planet, Ross 128b, orbits a red dwarf star.

As its name suggests, HARPS employs the "radial velocity" method, noticing the wobbles in a star's movement induced by the gravitational tugs of orbiting planets.

Ross 128 b has numerous hallmarks that make for a promising target in the search for extraterrestrial life as it shares many similarities to Earth, the only world on which life is known to exist.

It is now moving towards us and is expected to become our nearest stellar neighbour in "just" 79,000 years when it will take the crown from Proxima b and become the closest exoplanet to Earth.

Astronomers have discovered an Earth-like planet in the same solar system where "alien signals" were detected earlier this year.

This is one of the reasons that Proxima b could be inhospitable to the evolution of extraterrestrial life.

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Two things to keep in mind: We don't know yet if Ross 128b has an atmosphere or, if it has one, whether that atmosphere has the proper composition to support life as we know it.

This artist's impression shows the temperate planet Ross 128 b, which lies only 11 light-years from Earth, and was found by a team using ESO's unique planet-hunting HARPS instrument.

"We still need to know what the atmosphere of Ross 128 b is like", co-discoverer Nicola Astudillo-Defru told BBC News. 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. Ross 128 on the other hand is thought to be relatively inactive, and so may not pose as great a threat to Ross 128 b as Proxima Centauri does to Proxima b.

The problem, unfortunately, was that the relationship between Proxima Centauri and Proxima b wasn't the most serene. But it is close enough to Ross 128 that it absorbs warmth sufficient for liquid water, one of the requisite ingredients for life, to potentially exist on the surface.

The magnitude of the wobbles indicates that the planet is at least 1.35 times the mass of Earth but could easily be twice the mass of Earth.

Haven't I heard of Ross 128 before?

There aren't really any telescopes available right now that can see Ross 128 b directly. 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.

Earlier this year, scientists said that they had received unusual pulses coming from the star.



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