A group of scientists have found a rocky planet orbiting a small star. According to the last information, the planet is within easy telescope views and it circles too close to a parent star, a red dwarf known as Gliese 1132, Joinfo.com informs with the reference to News.discovery.com.
It is assumed that the planet might have more in common with Venus than Earth, but it could have an atmosphere.
“We have long imagined how rocky planets around other stars — particularly small stars – maybe be similar or distinct from the planets in the solar system,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology astronomer Zachory Berta-Thompson wrote in an email to Discovery News. “With this planet, we will finally be able to observe one!”.
Viewing conditions should be ideal. The planet, known as GJ 1132b, is slightly bigger than Earth and is in an orbit that is nearly edge-on to an Earth-based observer’s line of sight.
The trump card is that the system is only 39 light-years away, a stone’s throw by cosmic yardsticks and three times closer than any previously discovered Earth-sized planet.
It was discovered in May with an eight-telescope array located at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.
As GJ 1132b passes in front of its star, telescopes will be able to measure the small fraction of starlight that passes through the planet’s atmosphere. Scientists can then analyze the light for telltale chemical fingerprints of atmospheric gases and conditions. Ultimately, scientists want to be able to scan distant planets’ atmospheres for chemical signatures of life.
“The equilibrium temperature we calculate for this planet is above the habitable range, but with tidal locking and modest heat redistribution there could be habitable regions on the planet”, – University of Maryland astronomer Drake Deming wrote.
“The planet is very hot, hotter than Venus,” said Berta-Thompson. “Any water there would vaporize instantly, and could be lost quickly from the top of the atmosphere, as starlight breaks up water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, and the hydrogen gets lost to space. “Our expectation going in is that the atmosphere might look something like Venus’, with lots of carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas. Depending on how much water was there in the first place, it might even be possible for the atmosphere to have a substantial molecular oxygen content.”
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