Earth-like planet DISCOVERY: Could two alien worlds host extraterrestrial life? | Science | News


The planets were spotted roughly 12.5 light years or 73,482,817,000,000 miles from our own solar system. The exoplanets are believed to be slightly larger than our home-world but orbit a smaller star than our Sun. The star in question, a red dwarf dubbed Teagarden’s Star, sits in the constellation Aries and is one of our closest stellar neighbours. Teegarden’s star was only discovered in 2003 and astronomers are now slowly learning more and more about its planets.

The new exoplanets were spotted by an international team of astronomers led by the University of Göttingen in Germany and the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canaries (IAC),

Using the CARMENES high-resolution spectrograph at the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain, astronomers were able to hone in on the alien planets.

Mathias Zechmeister, a researcher at Göttingen who led the exoplanet study, said: “We have been observing this star for three years to look for periodic variations in its velocity.”

The stellar observations revealed two planets orbiting the red dwarf in a fashion similar to Earth.

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But what does this mean for the possibility of extraterrestrial life on the exoplanets?

The new is good because both planets were found inside of their star’s so-called “inhabitable zone”.

The inhabitable or habitable zone describes a region of space where the conditions are just right for liquid water to exist.

Sometimes known as the “Goldilocks Zone”, finding planets in these parts of space is crucial for the hunt for alien life.

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US space agency explained: “Because our blueprint for life is Earth, astronomers look for planets with Earth-like characteristics, like liquid water.

“But a celestial object can only orbit so close, like Mercury, or so far, like Pluto, from its star before water on its surface boils away or freezes.

“The ‘Goldilocks Zone,’ or habitable zone, is the range of distance with the right temperatures for water to remain liquid.

“Discoveries in the Goldilocks Zone, like Earth-size planet Kepler-186f, are what scientists hope will lead us to water – and one day life.”

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Despite the exciting announcement, the two planets are too far away from us to determine with any certainty whether life has evolved on them.

Even travelling a the speed of light, it would take a probe more than 12 years to reach Teegarden’s Star.

As such, astronomers and space agencies like NASA are more focused on tracking down evidence of alien life within our solar system.

Mars is a prime candidate for proof of life because the barren planet is believed to have once resembled a young and wet Earth.



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