New Earth-like planet has temperatures favourable to life

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Paris - A new extrasolar system planet can be added to a handful of fellow exoplanets which could theoretically support life, the European Southern Observatory said on Wednesday. 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.

A newly discovered star, known as Ross 128 b, has been held up as our most likely neighbour that could support life. Close inspection reveals that Ross 128 has a unusual multiple appearance as this image was created from photographs taken over a more than forty year period by the Digitized Sky Survey 2, and the star, which is only 11 light-years from Earth, moved across the sky significantly during this time.

The habitable zone of a red dwarf - the narrow temperature belts where surface water can persist without freezing or boiling away - is usually quite close to the star.

Scientists find a planet of the same size as Earth, which also has the same surface temperature and is deemed possible to be made a place to live, according to a new study. It also orbits around its host star (a red-dwarf) every 9.9 days. "Even better, the planet may orbit in the inner edge of its red star's habitable zone, where there could be water".

An artist's impression shows Ross 128 b, an exoplanet scientists discovered that they say is similar to Earth and only 11 light years away. "Ross 128 is one of the quietest stars of our sample and, although it is a little further away from us (2.6x), it makes for an excellent alternative target". If we have, it'll not only offer the potential to see what another planet like our own looks like - but potentially to meet the aliens that live there, or to move there ourselves. Unlike most exoplanet discoveries, Ross 128 b was not detected during a transit when the planet moves in front of the host star from our perspective, allowing astronomers to detect the reduction in light from the star.

Red dwarfs are some of the coolest, faintest - and most common - stars in the Universe. The system is moving toward Earth, and in just 79,000 years, it will be the closest exoplanet to our solar system.

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Because the planet is so low-mass, the researchers are pretty sure that it's rocky like Earth. Méndez's team wasn't looking for extraterrestrial signals; they were hoping to learn how red dwarf flares interacted with exoplanets.

Their next step is to analyze the planet's atmosphere for signs of oxygen and other biomarkers that might indicate the presence of or conditions for life.

There's still uncertainty about whether Ross 128 b is within the habitable zone, but scientists say that with temperatures of between -60 and +20°C, it can be considered temperate.

Earlier this year, scientists said that they had received odd pulses coming from the star.

They include the ESO's 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope under construction in Chile which is due to begin operating in 2024.

Maybe. This is the plucky star's second time in the spotlight this year.

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