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Thursday, April 25 2024

NASA Finds Super-Earth: Habitable Planet 137 Light-Years Away

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A planet that might harbor life has been identified as a “super-Earth” by the US space agency NASA. It’s 137 light-years away from us. In a press release, they announced the same thing, saying, “A small, reddish star, only 137 light-years away, is orbited by a’super-Earth’ ripe for further investigation. It’s possible that a second planet the size of Earth exists in the same system.”

NASA reports that the planet, known as TOI-715 b, is about 1.5 times wider than Earth and that it orbits within the “conservative” habitable zone around its parent star, which may mean that liquid water may eventually form on the planet’s surface. In just nineteen days, it completes one orbit, or a year.

“Several other factors would have to line up, of course, for surface water to be present, especially having a suitable atmosphere. But the conservative habitable zone – a narrower and potentially more robust definition than the broader ‘optimistic’ habitable zone – puts it in prime position, at least by the rough measurements made so far. The smaller planet could be only slightly larger than Earth, and also might dwell just inside the conservative habitable zone,” they added.

A red dwarf, which is smaller and colder than the Sun, is circled by the planet. Similar to this instance, several of these stars are known to support “small, rocky worlds.” According to NASA, “These planets orbit much closer than those around stars like our Sun, but because red dwarfs are smaller and colder than other stars, they can crowd together and remain safely inside the star’s habitable zone. Additionally, because of their tighter orbits, stars that cross their faces more frequently when observed by space telescopes.”

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) found the new planet. The shorter duration of completing a full orbit helps scientists to detect the planet and study it properly. The space agency plans to scrutinize the planet by the James Webb telescope and a lot of it will depend on the planet’s properties.

“Much will depend on the planet’s other properties, including how massive it is and whether it can be classed as a “water world” – making its atmosphere, if present, more prominent and far less difficult to detect than that of a more massive, denser and drier world, likely to hold its lower-profile atmosphere closer to the surface,” NASA said in the release.

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