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Ross 128 B: Scientists Discover New Exoplanet Close To Earth That Could Host Life

17 November 2017, 7:40 am EST By Allan Adamson Tech Times
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Nasa discovers eighth planet in an alien solar system with help of Google's AI technology

Another planet has been found outside the Solar System and scientists are excited about it because it could be in a perfect spot to host life. It is possibly located in the habitable zone, the spot where the temperature is just right to allow liquid water to pool on its surface.

Earth-Sized World In The Cosmic Neighborhood

The planet called Ross 128 b is an Earth-sized world that can be considered as our planet's cosmic next door neighbor.

The planet lies 11 light years away, which makes it the second closest potentially habitable planet to Earth. The nearest is the rocky world Proxima B, which orbits Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our Solar System.

Astronomers said that Ross 128 b is around one of the quietest stars in the cosmic neighborhood.It orbits around a small and fair red dwarf star.

Proxima Centauri is also a red dwarf just like the parent star of the newly-discovered exoplanet but it is not life-friendly. It is an active star that frequently generates intense and high-energy solar flares, which is not ideal in the hunt for alien life.

Flaring stars can bombard nearby planets with a lot of radiation and this can strip away the atmosphere that can make these worlds uninhabitable. Most red dwarfs flare but Ross 128 b's host star does not appear to exhibit the same behavior.

"Ross 128 b is the second closest known exo-Earth, after Proxima Centauri b (1.3 parsec), and the closest temperate planet known around a quiet star," researchers wrote in their study, which was published in Astronomy & Astrophysics on Nov. 8.

One And A Half Times More Massive Than Earth

The exoplanet's mass is equivalent to about one and a half times that of Earth's. Researchers said that the exoplanet's low mass indicates it is likely rocky like our home planet. The wobble measurements also hint that it is very close to its star and makes a complete orbit in just 10 Earth days.

Scientists estimate that its proximity to its star is about 20 times closer than the distance between Earth and the sun. The host star, however, is 280 less luminous than the Solar System's sun, so, Ross 128 b only gets about 40 percent more light than Earth.

This means that the planet likely has a surface temperature similar to Earth. Depending on the amount of light that it reflects back into space, researchers said that this world may have the right temperatures for liquid water.

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