Sunday, 29 January 2017

Earth's cousin found circling red dwarf

Artist’s impression of GJ 1132b as it circles a red dwarf star. Image credit: Dana Berry.
The Astrophysical Journal has published an article for review that suggests a planet with some Earth like qualities has been found a mere 39 light years away.

New observations of red dwarf Wolf~1061, known to host three super-Earths, have shown it has radius, temperature and luminosity, in the range that may support planets similar to Earth. One such planet under observation is GJ-1132-b.

“We have shown that an Earth-mass planet is capable of sustaining a thick atmosphere,” says John Southworth, lecturer in astrophysics at Keele University in England and lead author on the discovery paper, in a Scientific American article.

“This is one step towards investigating whether a planet could host life.”

The researchers believe GJ-1132-b could include methane and water, and say bigger telescopes will be able to capture higher resolution images of the light passing through the planet’s atmosphere, enabling it to detect more of its components.

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