Published: 16 November 2017
A newly-discovered planet that is reasonably close to Earth may support life.
Ross 128 b., the second closest exoplanet to our solar system, rests 11 light-years away. And it could support life. Roughly the same size as Earth, its surface temperature may also resemble our planet. It orbits its host star, a red dwarf star, Ross 128, every 9.9 days. Ross 128 lies in the equatorial zodiac constellation of Virgo; its apparent magnitude is 11.13,, too faint to be seen with the unaided eye.
Astronomers revealed the discovery in the Astronomy and Astrophysics manuscript; they discovered Ross 128 and its orbital planet utilizing the European Southern Observatory's planet-hunting instrument (HARPS) which is at La Silla Observatory in Chile.
Earth-size exoplanets such as Trappist planets and Proxima b have also triggered hopes of finding life apart from Earth. As CNN notes, “They are also considered to be among the best hopes for supporting life on planets outside our solar system because they exist within the ‘habitable zones’ of their stars, where liquid water could pool on the surface of the planet and potentially support life as we know it."
Ross 128 is not as bright as our sun, or as hot, thus making the idea of life on Ross 128 b. credible despite the fact that it rests 20 times closer to its star than we do to the sun.
The most salient factor triggering the hope for life on Ross 128 b. is that Ross 128 does not hurl deadly flares of ultraviolet and X-ray radiation at the planet.
Ross 128 b and its star are moving toward Earth; in 79,000 years, Ross 128 b will be closer to us than Proxima b.