An international team of astronomers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, led by Alejandro Suárez Mascareño, has discovered two exoplanets near our solar system that lie within the habitable zone of their star.
“`Nature seems bent on showing us that Earth-like planets are very common.
“With these two we now know seven in planetary systems quite near to the Sun,” explains Alejandro Mascareño said.
They orbit the red dwarf GJ 1002, which is less than 16 light years away from our solar system.
These planets have the same mass as Earth and orbit within the habitable zone of their star.
This means that the surface conditions on these planets are close to Earth-like and favourable for the emergence of Earth-like life.
The researchers explained that GJ 1002 is a red dwarf, with its mass amounting to only one-eighth of that of the Sun.
Both planets are closer to it than earth is to the sun.
But because the star’s radiation is not as strong as the Sun’s, the planet’s surface shouldn’t be too hot.
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Also, 1002-b takes about 10 days to make a complete revolution around the star, while GJ 1002-c takes 21 days.
The system’s proximity will make it possible to determine the presence and composition of the planet’s atmospheres very accurately.
Scientists intend to analyse their reflected light or thermal radiation.
“The future ANDES spectrograph for the ELT telescope at ESO, in which the IAC is participating, could study the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere of GJ 1002-c,” astrophysicist Jonay I. González Hernández of the IAC said.
Recently, researchers at the University of Montreal found two possible “water world” exoplanets – Kepler-138c and Kepler-138d.
Those planets may consist largely of H2O.
If the theory is confirmed, it would be a major breakthrough in the study of space. (Sputnik)
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