APR 20, 2017 7:21 AM PDT

This Exoplanet Has the Potential to Support Life, Study Says

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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
JUN 26, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Astrophysicists Find Evidence of Nearby Planet that May Sustain Life
JUN 26, 2020
Astrophysicists Find Evidence of Nearby Planet that May Sustain Life
Researchers have found that a nearby red dwarf star, known as Gliese 887, may host three planets, one of which could sus ...
JUL 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Closest Ever Images of the Sun Expose Previously Unknown Features
JUL 18, 2020
Closest Ever Images of the Sun Expose Previously Unknown Features
New images from the Solar Orbiter, a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) that launched in Feb ...
JUL 26, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Reveal the Biggest-Ever 3D Map of the Universe
JUL 26, 2020
Scientists Reveal the Biggest-Ever 3D Map of the Universe
After five years of research, an international team over 100 astrophysicists from around 30 institutions worldwide has r ...
OCT 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth-Sized Rogue Planet Found Drifting Through Our Galaxy
OCT 07, 2020
Earth-Sized Rogue Planet Found Drifting Through Our Galaxy
A team of astronomers has found a lone planet the size of Earth drifting through the Milky Way. Known as a ‘rogue ...
OCT 16, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The "Missing" Laureate at 2020 Physics Nobel
OCT 16, 2020
The "Missing" Laureate at 2020 Physics Nobel
Last week, the science community celebrated the awarding of this year's Nobel Physics Prize to a trio of black hole ...
OCT 21, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Why Some Astronauts Get Blurry Vision After Spaceflight
OCT 21, 2020
Why Some Astronauts Get Blurry Vision After Spaceflight
Researchers from the University of Antwerp in Belgium have found that the fluid surrounding the brain, known as craniosp ...
Loading Comments...