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Exoplanet GJ 1132b Is Key To Alien Life Study: Research

by Guenee Salugsugan / Apr 10, 2017 08:17 AM EDT
NASA Telescope Reveals Seven Earth-sized Planets Around Single Star

An exoplanet called GJ 1132b discovered by astronomers have found evidence for a hot and steamy atmosphere around, which circles a red dwarf star in the southern sky. This new finding marks one of the breakthroughs in an atmosphere around a small and rocky world, bringing a step closer to the goal of discovering life elsewhere in the universe.

Newly-Discovered Exoplanet Is Key To Finding Existence Of Alien Life

The exoplanet that lies 39 light-years away in the constellation of Vela is a prime candidate for developing the techniques needed to find the existence of alien life. However, reports suggest that the planet is not habitable.

According to reports, the exoplanet was initially discovered in 2015, with no atmosphere being detected at that time. However, latest findings reveal that the scientists have observed a shroud of gas around the distant planet. Using the measurements from the European Southern Observatory, they discovered that at one wavelength band of light, this exoplanet appeared larger compared to others while crossing the face of its parent star. Moreover, the discovery also points to an atmosphere that is rich in methane or water, although it needs more measurements from other telescopes to determine the chemicals present, The Guardian reported.

The Exoplanet's Atmosphere Opens Up The Likelihood Of More Habitable Worlds

The discovery of the exoplanet is interesting since M-dwarf stars such as GJ 1132 are the most common type of stars in the galaxy, which make up 20 of the 30 nearest stars to Earth. In addition, reports suggest that the planet's high levels of activity such as the streams of particles and the flares are likely to blow away any forming atmosphere on nearby planets. That said, by maintaining its atmospheres, the planet opens up the likelihood of more habitable words in the universe.

Meantime, GJ 1132b's atmosphere is also expected to be a top priority for research with the Hubble Space Telescope, ESO's Very Large Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope, which is set to launch in 2018. Meanwhile, the new study was published in The Astrophysical Journal on March 31, Space reported.


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