A new super-Earth has been identified, and it is relatively nearby.
The New Planet Gliese 486b
Gliese 486b is the kind of planet that researchers have been dreaming of for years now. It is also referred to as the super-Earth because it is rocky and solid like our own but on a larger scale.
This planet could help researchers answer how atmospheres can exist on rocky planets such as ours outside the solar system.
Researchers studied the planet through NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which seeks out transiting planets. It does so by flagging the tiny dips from a star's brightness--this only happens when an object or planet crosses between the face of the sun and the satellite's perspective. They also use Dopper Radial velocity, which looks for planets by their gravity wobbling against other stars.
Understanding an atmosphere's existence on other planets is the measure to know if it can be utilized as a home for life. Without it, it can indicate that the star is volatile, susceptible to burning out, and possibly making it inhospitable. On the contrary, a well-developed and stable atmosphere suggests a better home for possible lifeforms.
Gliese 486b has a metallic core similar to Earth's, but its landscape is hot and dry. This is because the planet orbits close to its star. It is revealed that one revolution for Gliese 486b - which is one year on Earth time - lasts for only a day and a half on that planet.
Brand New Discoveries About This Planet
However, the planet has its differences from Earth. With over 30 percent bigger and three times heavier, Gliese 486b has a surface of lava rivers hot enough to melt lead.
Gliese 486b's surface temperature is exactly 430 degrees Celsius, making it far too hot to support human life like ours.
But scientists remain hopeful for the potential in researching Gliese 486b planet.
Gliese 486b orbits around a red dwarf star about 26 light-years away. Scientists find this exciting because Gliese 486b is a transiting planet. Its orbital route allows scientists to examine the planet when it becomes visible as it crosses in front of its star. This was how scientists discovered the existence of the planet in the first place.
Researchers also say that the gravity of that planet is also 70% stronger than that of Earth. Someone who weighs around 50kg on Earth would equivalent to 85kg on that planet, making it hard to walk or even jump.
What To Expect In The Future
Ben Montet, a co-author of the study, says, "We've known for a long time that rocky super-Earths must exist around the nearby stars, but we haven't had the technology to search for them until recently. This finding has the potential to transform our understanding of planetary atmospheres."
Ben Montet concludes that Gliese 486b is the planet researchers will be studying for the next 20 years.
Not only for the researchers, but this is interesting progress for the public.
It brings back questions of lifeforms existing outside of space. It also opens the potential of planetary systems that exist in a structure similar to ours.
Perhaps in the future, Gliese 486b can be more than just a planet for studying.
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Written by Czarina Del Valle