Australian astronomers are upbeat about discovering a potentially habitable planet 14 light years away, outside our solar system that measures four times bigger than the Earth. They are also optimistic to find abundant water and alien life on it.
The planet is one of the three circling a red dwarf star called Wolf 1061 and plausibly better for habitation compared to few other planets found so far and much nearer to the Earth, said researchers from UNSW in Australia. Recently found exoplanets categorised as habitable are too far at thousands of light years away.
All the three planets of Wolf 1061 are potentially rocky and have a solid surface, and the middle planet, Wolf 1061c, sits within the ‘Goldilocks’ zone where it might be possible for liquid water, which means some traces of organism as well, said lead study author Duncan Wright, from University of New South Wales in Australia.
“Wolf 1061c, sits within the ‘Goldilocks’ zone where it might be possible for liquid water – and maybe even life – to exist,” said lead study author Duncan Wright, from University of New South Wales in Australia.
“It is fascinating to look out at the vastness of space and think a star so very close to us – a near neighbour – could host a habitable planet,” said Mr Wright, who is upbeat about the team’s discovery.
The three planets orbit the small, relatively cool and stable star about every 5, 18 and 67 days with their masses measured at about 1.4, 4.3 and 5.2 times that of Earth, respectively.
The larger outer planet falls just outside the outer boundary of the habitable zone and is also likely to be rocky, while the smaller ones are too close to the star to be habitable, they said.
The UNSW team used observations of Wolf 1061 collected by the HARPS spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6 metre telescope in La Silla in Chile to discover the new nearly habitable planet.
“Our team has developed a new technique that improves the analysis of the data from this precise, purpose-built, planet-hunting instrument, and we have studied more than a decade’s worth of observations of Wolf 1061,” says Professor Chris Tinney, head of the Exoplanetary Science at UNSW group.
Since these three planets right next door to us join the small but growing ranks of potentially habitable rocky worlds orbiting nearby stars cooler than our Sun, it should make UFO enthusiasts gun for more evidence on rare mysterious alien life.