June 19, 2024 at 11:48 pm

Astronomers Have Found An Earth-Sized World 55 Light-Years Away That Should Survive For Billions Of Years

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Lionel Garcia/Flatiron institut

Almost everyone on Earth surely knows that the truth is out there – I mean, the governments revelation that aliens exist was barely a blip on the radar.

Even so, it’s pretty exciting to find a planet out there that could have the same potential for life we’ve experienced here on Earth.

The planet in question is SPECULOOS-3b, and it orbits a dwarf star not much bigger than Jupiter 55 light-years away.

This is only the second such discovery, the other one being TRAPPIST-1.

The star SPECULOOS-3b is orbiting is cooler and therefore about 1,000 dimmer than our Sun, but the planet is closer to it that we are to ours. It orbits the star in about 17 hours and absorbs 16 times more radiation than Earth.

This star is the most common type in the galaxy, and should live 10 times longer than our Sun.

Astronomers are expecting the planet to be tidally locked, like the Moon, with one side always night and the other perpetually light.

This oddity will allow us to study it directly, says MIT’s Benjamin Rackham.

“We can say from our spectra and other observations that the star has a temperature of about 2,800 kelvins, it is about 7 billion years old – not too young, and not too old – and it is moderately active, meaning that it flares quite a lot. We think the planet must not have an atmosphere anymore because it would easily have been eroded away by the activity of the host star that’s basically constantly flaring.”

Next, they look to determine whether or not it has an atmosphere, and to study its rocks if it doesn’t.

“If there’s no atmosphere, there would be no blue sky or clouds – it would just be dark, like on the surface of the moon. And the ‘sun’ would be a big, purplish-red, spotted, and flaring star that would look about 19 times as bi as the sun looks to us in the sky.”

It’s called exoplanetary geology, and scientists are super excited to be able to understand the composition of a world in another solar system.

It could help us learn whether they’re similar or different to other rocky planets, and whether or not they might one day harbor the potential for life.

If you thought that was interesting, you might like to read about a second giant hole has opened up on the sun’s surface. Here’s what it means.