Astronomers have discovered "super-Earth" nearby exoplanets that can sustain life as we know it.
An international group of astronomers discovered the planet with the help of NASA's Transiting satellite for exoplanet exploration (TESS) earlier this year in the constellation Hydra, about 31 light-years from Earth, according to a statement by NASA. (One light year is the distance that light travels in one year, about 6 trillion miles or 10 trillion kilometers.)
The exoplanet, called GJ 357 d, is thought to be about twice the size of Earth and the port is six times the mass of the Earth. Located at the outer edge of the "habitable zone of the receiving star", scientists believe that this super-Earth may have water on its surface.
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"If the planet has a dense atmosphere that will take future research to determine, it could capture enough heat to heat the planet and allow liquid water to surface", Diana Kosakowski, a researcher at the Max Institute for Astronomy Planck "in Heidelberg, Germany and co-authored a recent study, the statement said.
The potentially habitable planet and two neighboring worlds were discovered in orbit around a dwarf star, about one-third the size and mass of our own sun, and 40% cooler. TESS has noticed that the light coming from this little star dims slightly every 3.9 days – an indication that the exoplanet can pass through its face.
This world is GJ 357b, a "hot earth" that orbits about 11 times closer to its host star than Mercury to the sun and probably has a surface temperature of about 490 degrees Fahrenheit (254 degrees Celsius).
But probably the habitable neighboring planet of GJ 357 b soon stole the show. Additional observations show that the GJ 357 d orbits its star every 55.7 days at a distance of about one fifth of the Earth's distance from the sun and may have similar Earth conditions a statement from Cornell University,
"We created the first models of what this new world could be like," said Jack Madden, a PhD candidate at Cornell and co-author of the study, in a statement. "The mere knowledge that liquid water can exist on the surface of this planet motivates scientists to find ways to find signs of life."
The other planet in the system, the GJ 357 c, is at least 3.4 times more massive than Earth and orbits the star every 9.1 days. The GJ 357 c probably has a surface temperature of about 260 Fahrenheit (127 C), NASA officials said.
The team hopes to soon be able to look for signs of exoplanet life with future telescopes.
The study was published on July 31 in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics,