Scientists have discovered a second Earth that is 6.65 times more massive than our planet, with a radius of just 1.4 times that of Earth. It has an atmosphere and is located in the habitable zone of its star. Scientists say this is the most exciting exoplanet found in the last decade.
The list of potentially life-bearing planets is constantly growing. The title of “best candidate for e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳ life” changes from planet to planet as scientists quickly find more planets that could be considered Earth\’s twins.
A second Earth capable of harboring e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳ life?
Astronomers have made another incredible discovery beyond our solar system. A newly discovered a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ world that is larger than Earth and has its own atmosphere raises hopes of not only finding another planet that is eerily similar to Earth, but one that is home to a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ lifeforms.
In fact, the discovery is so exciting that astronomers refer to the newly discovered exoplanet as the BEST BET in the search for e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳ life. The a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ world is classified as a super earth that is 6.65 times more massive than our planet, with a radius of only 1.4 times that of Earth.
Called LHS114b, this \’dwarf\’ planet is larger than Earth and orbits a star about 40 light-years from Earth. Most importantly, it is in its star\’s habitable zone and has its own atmosphere. The planet is located far enough from its star to support life as we know it, and not far enough away to have freezing temperatures.
The a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ world is located in the constellation Cetus and orbits a star called LHS1140.
Furthermore, scientists who made the discovery using the European Southern Observatory telescope believe that LHS 114b only receives half as much sunlight from its sun compared to Earth. As experts point out, the planet receives 0.46 of the heat from its star that the Earth receives from the sun.
“The LHS 1140 system may prove to be an even more important target for future characterization of planets in the habitable zone than Proxima bo TRAPPIST-1,” said two international team members, Drs. Xavier Delfosse and Xavier Bonfils.
They added: “This has been an extraordinary year for exoplanet discoveries.”
Even more interesting is the fact that astronomers believe that LHS114b may have formed similarly to Earth.
“This is the most exciting exoplanet I\’ve seen in the last decade,” said lead author Dr. Jason Dittmann of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“We could hardly hope for a better objective to fulfill one of science’s greatest missions: the search for evidence of life beyond Earth.” Also, unlike other rocky planets around similar stars, this particular red dwarf, LHS1140, appears to be very quiet.
Team member, Dr. Nicola Astudillo-Defru, from the Geneva Observatory, Switzerland, explains that “current conditions for the red dwarf are particularly favourable: LHS1140 rotates more slowly and emits less high-energy radiation than other similar low-energy stars. . For life to exist as we know it, an a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ planet must have liquid water on its surface and be able to retain an atmosphere.
Astronomers are well aware that when red dwarfs are young, they often emit large amounts of radiation, intense plasma waves (much larger than our Sun), capable of permanently damaging or destroying the atmosphere of orbiting planets. In this case, the size of the planet implies that an ocean of magma could have existed on its surface for millions of years.
And that ocean of boiling lava may have supplied large amounts of steam to the atmosphere, even long after the star had reached its current state of calm after its initial fury, which could mean that there could be large amounts of water there.
A planet the same age as Earth
Regarding the age of the system, the authors propose that LHS1140b could form similarly to Earth and calculate that its star is at least 5 billion years old, roughly the same age as the Sun.
In other words, a prime candidate for a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ life, and correctly dubbed Earth\’s twin planet. The study authors are now awaiting the results of observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope, which will be able to accurately determine how much high-energy radiation LHS1140b receives, and therefore its ability to support life.