NASA says that in order to see if there is water on either of the planet's surface needed to support life, that it requires "better telescopes to see". NASA explains that while Ross 128 b and Proxima b are in the habitable zone and seem similar to Earth, Venus and Mars would feature numerous same qualities from 11 light years away. The organization discovered the planet, named Ross 128b, orbiting a star within the constellation of Virgo.
Ross 128 b has numerous hallmarks that make for a promising target in the search for extraterrestrial life as it shares many similarities to Earth, the only world on which life is known to exist.
Ross 128 b orbits 20 times closer to its star that the Earth orbits the Sun, yet the exoplanet's star is a lot smaller and weaker than ours, so Ross 128 b receives a similar amount of solar radiation as Earth.
Ross 128b was found with the help of ESO's High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) instrument, that is attached to ESO's 3.6 metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, and although the circumstances look favourable, scientists involved in the project are uncertain as to whether the planet lies inside, outside, or on the edge of the habitable zone where liquid water may exist on a planet's surface.
The big question: Is Ross 128 b habitable?
Red dwarfs are the most common stars in the galaxy, making up about 70 percent of all known stars, and tend to hold water-friendly planets in their orbit.
Earth-mass temperate exoplanet found close by
"We are considering additional follow-up in light of the new discovery at radio and optical wavelengths", said Andrew Siemion, the director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, in an email. "Some models made by theorists say that a wet Earth-size planet with such irradiation would form high-altitude clouds". But the star's low temperature should give the planet a temperature between -60 and 20 degrees Celsius (-76 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit).
Earlier this year, by the way, radio astronomers detected a odd signal that seemed to be emanating from Ross 128.
For starters, Ross 128b's host star, referred to as a "quiet" M dwarf by the study's authors, has been very kind to the exoplanet.
Astronomers have found an Earth-sized planet with mild temperatures that's also relatively close to our Solar System. Méndez's team wasn't looking for extraterrestrial signals; they were hoping to learn how red dwarf flares interacted with exoplanets.
Red dwarfs are good because they are cooler and more comfortable than our own star. "They list all the close encounters with other stars, and because of the relative movements of stars and the Sun, it results that Ross 128 will be our closest star". His team plans to continue observing the system.
It may seem like an out-of-this-world claim, but if there was ever a place that could support life - whether that be alien or Earthling, sometime in the future - this appears to be it.
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