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
JUN 16, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
JUN 16, 2018
I Say Black Holes, You Say Wormholes
In a recent paper in the journal Physical Review D, a group of European physicists...
JUL 15, 2018
Videos
JUL 15, 2018
Meet the Rare Binary Asteroid Recently Confirmed by NASA
Astronomers first became aware of an asteroid called YE5 in December of 2017, but something seemed odd about it after they were unable to discern its physi...
JUL 16, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 16, 2018
A New Solar Sail Technology for Future Spacecraft?
As astronomers look to progress humankind’s understanding of outer space and the innumerable mysteries within, advancements in technology must follow...
AUG 07, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 07, 2018
SpaceX Launches Refurbished 'Block 5' Falcon 9 Rocket for the First Time
SpaceX is renowned for its Falcon 9 rocket, which frequently caters to NASA’s International Space Station resupply missions and sends Earth-orbiting...
SEP 04, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 04, 2018
This NASA Rocket Will Spend 15 Minutes Gawking at the Sun with X-Ray Vision
NASA is currently eyeballing Friday, September 7th for the third consecutive launch of its Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager (FOXSI), a space vehicle spec...
SEP 12, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 12, 2018
Why Do Some Galaxies Stop Producing Stars?
If you were to examine outer space with a powerful telescope, you’d see a bevy of distant galaxies containing uncountable amounts of stars. While it&...
Loading Comments...