Astronomers Hunt “Super-Earth” Planets Nearby; Can They Harness Life?


Researchers have observed two planets that might be similar to our Earth but bigger. And, one might even be capable of sustaining life. According to a press release, a team of international astronomers announced that they have discovered two “Super-Earth” planets that are bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune and Uranus, situated around 100 light-years away.

Astronomers Hunt “Super-Earth” Planets Nearby; Can They Harness Life?

The release notes that both exoplanets are orbiting SPECULOOS-2, a dwarf star dubbed after the “Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars” (SPECULOOS) telescopes in Chile and Spain that found it.

Are These Planets Habitable?

One of them is named LP 890-9b, and is around 30% larger than our planet. Another planet is called SPECULOOS-2c, and was found after astronomers pointed the huge equipment toward the dwarf star. It is around 40% larger than Earth and appears habitable, according to the consortium’s new paper in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

One of the intriguing things about the potentially-habitable planet is that it’s very close to its host star compared to Earth — just 3.7 million miles, in contrast to the 93 million miles between our planet and the Sun.

Quest For Hunting Alien Life Continues

“Although this planet orbits very close to its star, at a distance about 10 times shorter than that of Mercury around our Sun, the amount of stellar irradiation it receives is still low, and could allow the presence of liquid water on the planet’s surface, provided it has a sufficient atmosphere,” said Francisco Pozuelos, main paper co-author.

SPECULOOS-2c is the second planet that falls under the “habitable zone,” after scientists found the TOI-1452b “ocean planet” that revolves around a binary star system which is around 100 light years in another direction causing a stir in August.

All this sounds very promising and exciting for space enthusiasts and astronomers alike. It could have significant implications in the quest of searching for alien life beyond our solar system.

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Story first published: Monday, September 12, 2022, 17:52 [IST]

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