APR 20, 2017 07:21 AM PDT

This Exoplanet Has the Potential to Support Life, Study Says

The search for life in our universe, anywhere else besides Earth, continues to be a long and drawn-out process. So far, we have no leads; on the other hand, scientists continue their search based on the signatures of exoplanets that look and behave similarly to Earth.

One such potential candidate that was recently discovered was outlined in a new paper published this week in Nature. It’s a terrestrial Earth-like exoplanet dubbed LHS 1140b that resides around 40 light years away from us and is about 1.4 times the size of our planet.

An artist's impression of LHS 1140b as it orbits its host star.

Image Credit: M. Weiss/CfA

Astronomers say it circles the red dwarf star LHS 1140 once every 25 Earth days, exists within the star’s habitable zone and liquid water could potentially exist on its surface. This type of environment is ideal for live to thrive, which in turn has experts excited over the finding.

Related: Scientists say TRAPPIST-1 system has at least 7 Earth-like exoplanets that could support life

The star that LHS 1140b orbits is approximately one fifth of the size of our Sun, so the exoplanet is much closer to its host star than Earth is to the Sun. Nevertheless, because the star is producing far less energy, LHS 1140b is bombarded with much less energy than the Earth, which helps make life formation more possible.

The following illustration shows what a trip to LHS 1140 would look like:

It’s worth noting how a recent study suggested that exoplanets orbiting red dwarf stars are unlikely to support life, so there’s certainly a conflict of opinion in the astronomical community over where we’re likely to find life in the first place.

Nevertheless, because being the first to find life anywhere else in the universe besides planet Earth would come with great honors and eons of scientific citation, scientists aren’t leaving any rocks unturned.

While our current operating space observation equipment isn’t quite powerful enough to study life-supporting planets from so far away, the study does cite “telescopes under construction,” which might be able to.

They’re, of course, referring to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is slated to launch sometime in 2018 to explore the cosmos even further than the Hubble Space Telescope can with its much larger primary mirror and up-to-date sensory equipment.

It should be interesting to see if we can study the LHS 1140 system in more detail and whether or not we can find any traces of the exoplanet supporting life.

Source: New York Times

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 09, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 09, 2018
Curiosity Rover Captures Stunning Panorama Following Successful Drill Sampling
NASA’s Curiosity rover currently sits at the forefront of the American space agency’s web page this week after capturing a breath-taking 360-de...
SEP 10, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 10, 2018
The James Webb Space Telescope May Help Astronomers Search for Alien Life
Despite an onslaught of delays that have thus far prevented NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope from being launched into space, the space observatory p...
SEP 26, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 26, 2018
Do the TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanets Have What it Takes to Support Life?
Among all the extrasolar systems astronomers have discovered to date, the TRAPPIST-1 system is unquestionably one of the most intriguing. Orbiting the host...
OCT 03, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 03, 2018
Have Astronomers Discovered An Exomoon for the First Time?
While analyzing data from NASA’s Hubble and Kepler Space Telescopes, astronomers happen upon new exoplanets all the time. But the same can’t be...
NOV 05, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 05, 2018
NASA Waves Goodbye to its Asteroid Belt-Centric Dawn Mission
In 2007, NASA launched the Dawn mission to explore the Asteroid Belt between the planets of Mars and Jupiter. The Dawn spacecraft was employed to study two...
NOV 20, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 20, 2018
NASA Will Live-Stream the Martian InSight Landing on Monday
If you’ve been paying any attention to NASA lately, then you’ve undoubtedly heard a lot about the space agency’s InSight mission, which i...
Loading Comments...