How many planets like earth exist?
It boggles the mind how many more are out there. There is so much we don’t know and yet to discover.
A team of researchers just used the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) to discover a low-mass alien planet — also known as an “exoplanet” — orbiting the red dwarf star Ross 128. Notably, this planet has a mass that is similar to Earth’s.
In fact, it’s thought that the planet, formally known as Ross 128 b, could be similar to Earth in terms of both its size and surface temperature. And it is just 11 light-years from our solar system, making it the second-closest temperate planet to ever be detected. Ultimately, the little world comes in just after Proxima b.
“This discovery is based on more than a decade of HARPS intensive monitoring together with state-of-the-art data reduction and analysis techniques,” said Nicola Astudillo-Defru of the University of Geneva, who co-authored the paper outlining the exoplanet’s discovery, in a press release. “Only HARPS has demonstrated such a precision, and it remains the best planet hunter of its kind, 15 years after it began operations.”
“Ten years from now, we will be capable, thanks to giant telescopes, to directly ‘see’ the planet and characterize its atmosphere,” Astudillo-Defru told Futurism via email. “In the meantime, we need to better constrain theoretical models to elucidate if liquid water can be found on Ross 128 b’s surface.”