Scientists discovered a planet that appears to have the characteristics necessary to support life, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced Wednesday.
Scientists with ESO spotted Ross 128 b using a High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher attached to a telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. The planet is 11 light years away from Earth orbiting an inactive red dwarf star.
“I think Ross 128 is much more comfortable for the development of life,” researcher Nicola Astudillo-Defru, who co-authored a report on the discovery, told the BBC. “But we still need to know what the atmosphere of Ross 128 b is like. Depending on its composition and the reflectivity of its clouds, the exoplanet may be life friendly with liquid water as the Earth, or sterile like Venus.”
Ross 128 b is the second closest planet to earth that is possibly habitable. The first, Proxima b, receives large amounts of radiation from the star it orbits, though, and is a less likely home for life outside of Earth.
The planet has about 1.35 times the mass of Earth, and orbits its star 20 times closer than the Earth orbits the Sun. Ross 128 b’s star is “quiet” and gives off less heat and radiation than the Sun and keeps the planet between -76 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, a range where water can exist, according to The Planetary Society.
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