Alien Life Not Yet Extinct? Astronomers Find 3 Earth-Like Exoplanets As Potential Locations For Extraterrestrial Life Existence
Good news, alien hunters and enthusiasts! A team of astronomers from the University of Liege in Belgium recently discovered three Earth-like exoplanets that could be potential locations for extraterrestrial life existence.
For years, many astronomers have been searching for alien life beyond the solar system. But recently, astronomers found three alien planets orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star known as TRAPPIST-1, the smallest and the dimmest star in the galaxy.
In the study published in the journal Nature on Monday, an international team of astronomers said the new discovery was made possible with the use of robot telescope called TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. They revealed the discovery is momentous because the three exoplanets have comparable properties to Earth and suggested the existence of extraterrestrial life.
Additionally, the findings were also found significant because the newly discovered exoplanets were relatively close, just 40 light years away. It also marked the first time that these Earth-like exoplanets were discovered orbiting such a dim star, Boston Herald notes.
"What is super exciting is that for the first time, we have extrasolar worlds similar in size and temperature to Earth - planets that could thus, in theory, harbor liquid water and host life on at least a part of their surfaces - for which the atmospheric composition can be studied in detail with current technology," lead researcher Michaël Gillon said in an email, as per Popular Mechanics.
TRAPPIST-1 And The Newly Discovered Exoplanets
Originally named as 2MASS J23062928-0502285, TRAPPIST-1 is reportedly a dim cold red star located in the constellation of Aquarius. It is 2,000 times less bright than the sun and a bit less than half as warm as the sun.
It is also about one-twelfth the sun's mass and less than one-eighth the sun's width, making it slightly larger in diameter than Jupiter. TRAPPIST-1 is a type of star that is very common in the Milky Way, making up about 15 percent of the stars near the sun, Space.com reveals.
The three exoplanets, on the other hand, are roughly 10 percent larger in diameter than Earth. The two innermost planets are about 60 to 90 times closer to their star as compared to Earth to the sun, with orbits only 1.5 and 2.4 days long, respectively.
Unfortunately, the orbit of the third of TRAPPIST-1's exoplanets is quite uncertain, ranging between 4.5 and 73 days long. However, it has been found within the star's habitable zone, an area around a star where planets have surfaces warm enough to have the key ingredient to life—liquid water.
Lead study author Michaël Gillon admitted that he always craved to know whether humanity has company in the galaxy. He said he always concentrated on finding alien life existence but acknowledged that planets should be explored in depth from Earth to find life.
"I've always been focused on extraterrestrial life," Gillon admitted, The Atlantic quotes. Gillon also added that they could search for communication from intelligent alien life. "We can even search for communication if we are optimistic enough. I'm not very optimistic, but it's basically free to try."
It remains uncertain if these newfound exoplanets are the best worlds to find alien life. But unlike the potentially life-harboring moons in the solar system such as Europa and Enceladus, the rich atmospheres on the newly discovered planets suggest the possibility to detect life using the existing telescope technology.
Meanwhile, a recent study published in the journal Astrobiology claimed that alien life once existed across the universe. Unfortunately, those advanced extraterrestrial communities had gone extinct, as previously reported.
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