Newfound Super Earth Is Best Place To Search For Alien Life

Posted: Apr 20 2017, 4:53am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Newfound Super Earth is Best Place to Search for Alien Life
An artist's impression of the newly-discovered star LHS 1140 and its rocky super-Earth exoplanet, LHS 1140b An artist’s impression of the newly-discovered rocky exoplanet, LHS 1140b that is located in the liquid water habitable zone surrounding its small, faint and red host star. The planet weighs about 6.6 times the mass of Earth and is shown passing in front of its host star. The planet may be a prime target for habitability studies. Photo Credit: M. Weiss/CfA
  • Newly discovered exoplanet may be best candidate in search for signs of life

A novel super-earth is the best bet astronomers have as far as the possibility of alien life forms are concerned. The conditions on this newly discovered planet are just right for life to thrive.

The super-earth planet titled LHS 1140b is in orbit around a dim red dwarf star in the constellation known as Cetus. The word Cetus stands for the Sea Monster.

Red dwarfs are smaller and much colder than the sun. While LHS 1140b is upto ten times closer to its red dwarf than the earth is to its sun, it receives merely half as much sunlight. It actually exists in the habitable zone.

The orbit can be viewed from a telescope edge-wise from the vantage point of the earth. The planet blocks the light of the red dwarf every 25 days or so. It is the most exciting find since the entire past decade.

There could hardly have been a better choice for searching for alien life forms. Life beyond our earth is a quest that sends one into a tailspin. It is exhilarating and fulfills the exploratory drive in mankind to the hilt.

"This is the most exciting exoplanet I've seen in the past decade," said lead author Jason Dittmann of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (Cambridge, USA).

"We could hardly hope for a better target to perform one of the biggest quests in science—searching for evidence of life beyond Earth."

At present, the conditions extant on the red dwarf are just right for viewing purposes. The red dwarf spins slowly and sends out less high energy radiation than other stars which resemble it.

"The present conditions of the red dwarf are particularly favourable—LHS 1140 spins more slowly and emits less high-energy radiation than other similar low-mass stars," explains team member Nicola Astudillo-Defru from Geneva Observatory, Switzerland.

For life to exist on a planet, it must have liquid on its surface and an atmosphere to boot. This planet’s large size means that it could have had a magma ocean for millions of years on its surface.

The discovery of this planet was made when the MEarth facility noticed the first signs of dips in the light as it traveled in front of the red dwarf.

The presence of the super-earth was soon confirmed with certainty. The age of this planet is approximately five billion years. It has a diameter that is equivalent to 1.4 times the diameter of the earth. As for the mass, it is seven times that of the earth.

It may be the best bet for the existence of life elsewhere in the universe. In fact, LHS 1140b may be even more important than Proxima b or TRAPPIST-1. 2017 has indeed been quite a serendipitous year for the discovery of exoplanets that might harbor signs of life.

J. A. Dittmann et al. presented this research in a paper entitled "A temperate rocky super-Earth transiting a nearby cool star", which is published in the journal Nature on today.

This story may contain affiliate links.

This free App Solves You Holiday Shopping Problem


Download the free Tracker app now to get in-stock alerts on Fingerling, Luvabella, SNES Classic and more.

Latest News

Comments

The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.

 

 

Advertisement

comments powered by Disqus