They discover a potentially habitable exoplanet the size of Earth

A team of astronomers has discovered a rocky Earth-mass exoplanet orbiting in the habitable zone of the red dwarf star Wolf 1069.

Searching the galaxy for Earth-like planets can be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. In fact, over more than 5,000 planets discovered by astronomers so far, only about 12 come close.

However, this number has increased by one unit, thanks to the discovery of Wolf 1069b, a planet with a mass similar to that of Earth and the potential existence of liquid water and an atmosphere, all of which make it a good candidate for further study, looking for signs of life.

The team of astronomers that detected Wolf 1069 was led by Diana Kossakowski. They are based in the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg (Germany) and worked at the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain.

Calar Alto Observatory. Credit: ME / Ideal.

The investigation

For their work, the researchers used a special spectrographic instrument developed for the project. caremenesan initiative for search for Earth-like worlds which revolve around M dwarfs (also called red dwarfs), small, cool stars that are the most common type in the Milky Way.

Astronomers have discovered “a clear signal of low amplitude” indicating a planet of Earth-sized proportions. By analyzing data from the red dwarf star, they discovered that the exoplanet is 31 light years from our planet.

Likewise, they discovered that Wolf 1069b is a tidally locked planet, meaning one side always faces its sun, while the other side is constantly in darkness, like our moon.

Kossakowski and his team, report in their study that Wolf 1069b “It orbits the star in nearly 15.6 days at a distance 15 times less than the distance between the Sun and Earth.”

Life is very likely to thrive on its surface

artistic illustrations.

Without an atmosphere, the newly discovered planet would be cold, reaching -23°C (-9.4°F), even on the sunny side of the planet. However, if the planet retained its atmosphere, its average temperature would instead be around 13°C (55.4°F), which makes it more hospitable to life and able to support liquid water.

An atmosphere is not only a condition for the appearance of life from the climatic point of view. It would also help protect the planet from electromagnetic radiation from its sun and particles that would destroy any biomolecules.

You might also be interested in: Scientists discover why Mayan buildings are aligned with the stars.

Wolf 1069b receives about 65% of the light and heat our planet receives from the Sun, making it potentially hospitable. Moreover, his rotation is synchronous, which means he experiences eternal day on one hemisphere and on the other side it is always night.

The discovery of Wolf 1069 b was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

References: Space / Max Planck Society.

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