Astronomers have found two new planets that could potentially support life

19 Juin, 2019, 19:40 | Auteur: Therese Cote

They are just a little bigger than the Earth and are situated in the "habitable zone" where water can exist as a liquid, according to the researchers.

The two planets orbit Teegarden's star, an ancient star that is only 12-light-years away from the Earth.

The alignment and dimness of Teegarden wouldn't lend itself to this method however, so astronomers instead used the CARMENES next-generation telescope designed specifically for such situations.

"Teegarden's star" is observable from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and was discovered in 2003. The telescope is in Spain's Calar Alto Observatory, and after three years of close observation and more than 200 measurements, they found signs that indicate the existence of the two new planets.

Teegarden c would be closer in temperament to Mars, with a likely surface temperature of -47 degrees Celsius, so potential colonists might want to bring a heavy jacket and some thick gloves. Given its mass and minimal radiation exposure, Teegarden b, which completes its orbit in just 4.9 Earth days, has scored the highest Earth Similarity Index (ESI) ever.

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Finally, the conclusion until now is that Teegarden b is much similar to Earth, but it doesn't mean that one of the planets is habitable.

"The planets Teegarden's Star b and c are the first planets detected with the radial velocity method around such an ultra-cool dwarf", the team writes in a paper describing the discovery.

Lauren Weiss, an astrophysicist at the University of Hawaii who was not involved in this research, told National Geographic there were still some technical details that need to be teased out, but she was impressed by the overall quality of data. The astronomers are putting the planets on the list of worlds with potentially habitable environments, and are in top 19 know exoplanets.

Astronomers believe that both planets could be a part of a larger system and are the 10th and 11th discovered by the team.

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