So, here’s yet another intriguing discovery that excites most of the people who follow planetary studies. A NASA satellite has discovered a planet that could be ideal to support life.
The said planet is 31 light-years away from us and it was picked up by the space agency’s TESS satellite. The group of scientists who have been studying it believe that the conditions there are suitable to host life.
The planet has been named GJ 357 d, and the researchers have given it the nickname ‘super-earth’, because of its similarities with Earth, but it’s much bigger in size.
Dr Lisa Kaltenegger, who led a study into the planet, said: “This is exciting, as this is humanity’s first nearby super-Earth that could harbour life – uncovered with help from TESS, our small, mighty mission with a huge reach.
“With a thick atmosphere, the planet GJ 357 d could maintain liquid water on its surface like Earth and we could pick out signs of life with upcoming telescopes soon to be online.”
Diana Kossakowski, from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, who co-authored a separate paper for Astronomy & Astrophysics, added: “GJ 357 d is located within the outer edge of its star’s habitable zone, where it receives about the same amount of stellar energy from its star as Mars does from the Sun.
“If the planet has a dense atmosphere, which will take future studies to determine, it could trap enough heat to warm the planet and allow liquid water on its surface.”
Near to GJ 357 d is GJ 357 b, which has been dubbed a ‘hot Earth’ and is around 22 percent bigger than the planet we call home. There’s also GJ 357 c, which is at least 3.4 times bigger than Earth. The planets b and c are way too hot to support life.
The researchers are now hoping to find out more about the planet and are hoping to discover it has water, which would be a big indication that could hold life.
“We built the first models of what this new world could be like,” said Jack Madden, who worked on the study.
“Just knowing that liquid water can exist on the surface of this planet motivates scientists to find ways of detecting signs of life.”