Like NASA, finding traces of life on Mars is one thing.

But scientists are also looking further afield. Can it be found outside our solar system?

A study published Thursday in the famous “Science” magazine showed that a new type of exoplanet has been discovered that may play a role in hunting.

Researchers will try to determine whether there is an atmosphere on the “super-Earth” and whether there are traces of life around stars other than the sun.

Astronomer Jose Caballero of the Spanish Center for Astrobiology said: “The end of the road is to find biomarkers or biomarkers in the atmosphere of exoplanets, which are signs of life on habitable Earth-like planets. .”Learn.

In the past 25 years, about 4,000 exoplanets have been discovered, and some atmospheres have been discovered.

But Cavallero told AFP that these are “gas planets or icy planets” and no investigation has been conducted on Earth-sized planets.

He said this latest discovery provides researchers with the possibility of studying exoplanets that are “rocky in nature”.

The name of the exoplanet is Gliese 486b, and it is only 26 light years away from Earth.

It is 30% larger than the earth, but the mass is 2.8 times that of our planet, and it is located in a habitable area around the star.

In order to identify it, the researchers used two methods: “transient photometry” (when the planet passes in front of the planet, the brightness of the star changes slightly) and “Doppler radial velocity”, which is used to measure the gravitational force of the star in its orbit The “swing” situation under the action. planet.

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“It must start with something”
Since Gliese 486b is very close to the star Gliese 486, it only takes less than 1.5 days to complete the orbit.

Trifon Trifonov, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, the lead author of the study, and the contributions of five continents, said: “We investigated about 350 small dwarfs to find Signs of low-mass planets.”

Trifonov said that Gliese 486b cannot adapt to temperatures around 430 degrees Celsius.

Trifonov said: “The planet near the red dwarf star Gliese 486 heated the earth greatly, making the landscape dry and hot, with volcanoes and hot lava rivers scattered everywhere.”

At the same time, Cavallero said: “If our planet has an atmosphere, then any planet that is farther away (separated from the star) and has roughly the same planetary characteristics will also have an atmosphere.”

If there is no atmosphere, other planets in orbit will also be uninhabitable.

Cavallero said: “We must start from certain aspects.”

Trifonov said that Gliese 486b is an “extraordinary discovery, and it is likely to become the’Rosetta stone’ for studying the atmosphere of rocky exoplanets.”

He is anxiously awaiting the deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope in the second half of this year.

It should allow researchers to tell whether an exoplanet has an atmosphere and its composition no later than three years.

Caballero said, and eventually tell people within a few decades whether there are traces of life.


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