A new step towards a possible discovery of extraterrestrial life seems to be taking shape. An exoplanet relatively close to Earth has just been found, and everything indicates that it has an atmosphere close to that of Earth.
A combination of two observation techniques
This exoplanet responds to the cute name Gliese 486 b and is a rocky planet. It is located 26.4 light years from Earth. The study, published yesterday in the renowned journal Science, was based on two observation techniques: the so-called transit method and the radial velocity method.
If the first is to identify the fluctuations in light caused by the passage of a planet in front of its star, the second is different because it is based on the flickering of stars caused by the gravitational pull. Together they made it possible to go beyond their respective limits and draw an accurate portrait of this exoplanet.
A planet similar to the earth
According to study leader Trifon Trifonov, some features of Gliese 486b are fairly close to earth. Its main common point is its density, which has allowed scientists to conclude that it could be made up of iron silicates. It has a radius that is 1.31 times that of the earth. The mass is about 2.81 times larger.
However, could Gliese 486b be able to harbor life forms? Proximity to its star, a red dwarf planet, makes it unlikely. The exoplanet is so close that it can orbit it in 1,467 days. Its temperature is therefore estimated at 430 °.
The planet that hides the forest
But that doesn’t mean that this discovery is of no interest to scientists! They have every interest in looking at neighboring planets as there is a good chance they will have an atmosphere too, if this fact is finally proven and their properties are similar. Their distance from the Sun makes them difficult to identify, but their habitable potential is even stronger.
This find could be the beginning of more important discoveries in the years, even in the months to come.