Recently, we heard that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been funding researchers to search for alien life forms out there in space. Now, super-Earths have been discovered lingering about one of our nearest stars.
Scientists are now saying that the presence of these planets could offer possibilities of actually finding life outside the solar system. This system goes around the star called Gliese 887—which is the brightest red dwarf. This same star is about 11 light years far.
So, what are these so-called Super-Earths? For starters, their mass are higher than that of our mother planet. However, they are smaller than Uranus and Neptune (also known as the ‘ice giants’ of our solar system).
Further details on these newly-discovered planets also states that they are near the habitable zone: it is not too cold nor is it too hot. It is enough for water to maintain its liquid property. Such discoveries make these planets a hotspot for scientists to consider life forms to exist in them.
The discovery of the star was thanks to the HARPS spectograph courtesy of RedDots astronomers who are searching for planets located near red dwarfs. The spectograph is located at the European Southern Observatory in Chile.
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As for finding the super-Earths particularly; a technique called ‘Doppler wobble’ was applied which allows the observers to catch even the tiniest movements of the star. Such movement could only mean a gravitational pull planets are forcing them to move.
These newly-discovered planets, they further observed, were orbiting the star of years numbering to 9.3 (that is the equivalent of merely 21.8 days here on Earth). That’s even faster than Mercury’s orbit.
These planets could still move closer to Gliese 887 because the star is dimmer and smaller than the Sun. It is still considered habitable.
Gliese 887 also proved to be less active than our Sun. Such serene characteristic means that the worlds’ atmospheres could still be maintained which, simply put, allows life support to sustain who (or what?) may be out there.
In terms of brightness, it also stays constant so that atmosphere detection would not have any trouble when using technology such as the James Webb Space Telescope.
James Webb should have been the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope if not for its delays. Still though, astronomers are not about to lose hope that it will contribute greatly to more discoveries about these super-Earths.
It’s definitely something to look forward to in the future of space science: the possibility that living things on Earth aren’t the ONLY things alive; rather there is something or someone out there we have yet to make contact with.
This new research is published in a paper with the title “A multiple planet system of super-Earths orbiting the brightest red dwarf star GJ887” and can be read in the journal Science today.
Via: The Independent