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New Earth-Like Planet Discovered: Could Gliese 12b Be Our Next Home?

Daniel Kim Views  

An exoplanet capable of supporting life has been discovered orbiting the cold red dwarf star Gliese 12 in the Pisces constellation, 40 light-years from Earth.

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) of the UK announced that an international research team from Australia, the UK, Japan, and the US discovered Gliese 12 b, an exoplanet that orbits the red dwarf Gliese 12 every 12.8 days, 40 light-years away.

The research team estimates that this planet, similar in size to Venus and with a surface temperature of 107.6°F (42°C), is among the most habitable of the over 5000 exoplanets discovered so far.

The results of this research were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS).

The research team confirmed the planet’s existence, size, temperature, and distance from Earth using data from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) satellites.

The team stated that this planet is among the closest exoplanets to Earth discovered so far. As it transits across its host star, it could be considered an “exo-Venus,” a temperate Earth-like planet. It is expected to be a primary observation target for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

However, the surface temperature of Gliese 12 b was estimated under the assumption that there is no atmosphere. Therefore, it’s too early to determine whether it’s a habitat where liquid water and life forms could exist. Gliese 12 b may have an atmosphere similar to Earth’s, or it may lack an atmosphere like Venus, which has become a 752°F (400°C) hell due to the greenhouse effect, or it may have a different atmosphere unseen in our solar system.

The research team expects that future JWST observations will not only reveal the atmospheric conditions of Gliese 12 b and whether the planet’s surface can maintain a temperature suitable for liquid water and life forms but also provide clues as to why Earth and Venus evolved differently.

The host star of Gliese 12 b, Gliese 12, is estimated to be only about 27% the size of the sun and has a surface temperature of about 60% that of the sun, or approximately 6260°F (3300°C).

However, the distance between the host star and Gliese 12 b is only about 7% of the Earth-sun distance, or approximately 6.5 million miles (10.5 million kilometers). As a result, Gliese 12 b is estimated to receive about 1.6 times the energy Earth receives from the sun and about 85% of the energy Venus gets.

The research team stated that the amount of energy Gliese 12b receives can significantly affect its surface temperature depending on the atmospheric conditions, and it is crucial to determine these conditions.

One of the reasons why exoplanet Gliese 12 b is of particular interest is that its host star, Gliese 12, is a cold red dwarf, one of the most common types of stars in our galaxy.

The research team revealed that temperate planets with atmospheres and potential life forms can exist around cold red dwarfs like Gliese 12, which could greatly assist future extraterrestrial life exploration.

“Gliese 12 b represents one of the best targets to study whether Earth-size planets orbiting cool stars can retain their atmospheres, a crucial step to advance our understanding of habitability on planets across our galaxy,” said Shishir Dholakia, a doctoral student at the Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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