A new Earth-like planet Ross 128 b is being discovered by scientists using an observatory in Chile, it is the second closest potential human habitat to Earth, with similar surface temperatures, raising hopes that it could potentially support life.
Located just 11 light years away, Ross 128 b orbits a red dwarf star considerably smaller and dimmer than the Sun. Although it circles the star at a distance 20 times closer than our planet does the sun, the level of solar radiation is not thought to be much more than that received on earth.
It therefore falls into the so called “Goldilocks zone” – a planet that is neither too close nor too far from a star, but just close enough to sustain liquid water.Nicola Astudillo-Defru from the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland, was part of the team that discovered Ross 128 B.
She said: “Just because Proxima Centauri blasts its planet with strong flares and high energy radiation, yes, I think Ross 128 B is much more comfortable for the development of life.
“But we still need to know what the atmosphere of Ross 128 b is like. Depending on its composition and the reflectivity of its clouds, the exoplanet may be life friendly with liquid water as the Earth, or sterile like Venus.”
ANU astrobiologist and planetary scientist Dr Charles Lineweaver says: the public is split on the search for ‘Earth 2.0’.“Some say we’ve got to find a second Earth because we’re quickly screwing this one up,” he says. Ultimately, he says, we just don’t yet know what ‘habitable’ means anyway.
“Life is something that seems to need liquid water. But it probably also needs other things we don’t know about,” Dr Lineweaver says.“We know so little about habitability, it’s difficult to say what it is. What does it take to get life started? We just don’t know.
NASA has growing list of newly discovered planets that could sustain human as well as alien life.There are now a total of 50 exoplanets far beyond our solar system, that are of interest to astronomers and astrophysicists across the globe.The US space agency said: “In the past 30 years our knowledge of life in extreme environments has exploded.
The planet can’t be observed directly, so it’s hard to say whether an atmosphere or water exist. However, it gives scientists important clues about potential of human habitat outside our solar system.