Mysterious Earth-like planet interests alien-hunting astronomers

The newly discovered exoplanet Gliese 12b represents an achievement in the search for Earth-like planets.

With an average surface temperature of around 42 degrees Celsius (107°F), it draws attention for its Earth-like characteristics.

About the size of Venus but slightly smaller than Earth, the discovery of Gliese 12b, according to Dr. Thomas Wilson of the University of Warwick, helps in the search for Earth-like planets.

“It’s exciting that this planet is the closest in size and temperature to Earth that we currently know,” he said.

Gliese 12 is a metal-poor star

Gliese 12, a nearby bright star, is intriguing because it is metal-poor. This is significant because research indicates that stars with fewer heavy elements are more favorable for the development of life.

Compared, for example, to stars with lower metal content. Gliese 12 b was discovered orbiting Gliese 12. As explained in the study, Gliese 12 b is the closest transiting temperate planet the size of Earth found to date. Gliese 12b has an orbital period of 12.8 days. In addition, it is located almost 40 light years from Earth.

“The light we are seeing now is from 1984 (40 years ago). “That’s how long it’s taken to get to us here on Earth,” Wilson said.

“Gliese 12 b represents one of the best targets to study whether Earth-sized planets orbiting cool stars can retain their atmospheres,” said Shishir Dholakia of the Center for Astrophysics at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.

As explained, this is a crucial step to advance the understanding of habitability on planets throughout the galaxy. As for the amount of light it receives, it is between the amount of light that Earth and Venus receive from the sun.

“Earth is habitable, but Venus is not due to its total loss of water. Because Gliese 12 b is between Earth and Venus in temperature. Its atmosphere could teach us a lot about the habitability pathways that planets follow as they develop,” explained Larissa Palethorpe, who co-led the research with Dholakia.

One in 5,000?

As stated since the 1990s, more than 5,500 planets have been discovered orbiting stars other than the Sun. But according to the study, Gliese 12 b is among the temperate terrestrial planets most susceptible to atmospheric spectroscopy discovered to date. .

Gliese 12b is discovered thanks to NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) and other data sources. The study is the result of cooperation between two international teams of scientists. Also including experts from the University of Birmingham.

As concluded, Gliese 12 b is therefore a prime target for future detailed characterization studies. Its prospects for an accurate measurement of its mass are reasonable and the star has some of the lowest activity levels among known M dwarfs.

Furthermore, it stands out as an exceptional candidate to study both its atmosphere and its stellar properties. More detailed analysis will provide insights into evolutionary patterns and compositional trends. This is important because they are trying to infer the number of true Earth analogs and understand our place in the universe.

“To better understand the diversity of atmospheres and the evolutionary outcomes of these planets, we need more examples like Gliese 12 b,” said study co-author Michael McElwain.

The research findings were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


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Maria Bolevich Maria Bolevich graduated from the Higher School of Medicine and the Faculty of Metallurgy and Technology of the Department of Environmental Protection. She is an environmental protection engineer and wrote her first scientific paper as a student in 2009, which sparked her passion for science journalism. As a science, health and environmental journalist, she has collaborated with many international media, including Nature, SciDev… she has received numerous notable awards in her field of expertise.

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