Scientists Say Newly-Discovered 'Super Earth' Could Be Hosting Alien Life

Scientists Say Newly-Discovered 'Super Earth' Could Be Hosting Alien Life

Unlike its neighbor, the newly discovered exoplanet is situated much closer to its star, likely putting it just outside the habitable zone, and as a result, likely doesn't possess liquid water on its surface.

Lead researcher Ryan Cloutier, astronomy and astrophysics PhD candidate with the University of Toronto, said it's too early for the team to know whether or not the planet hosts life.

Astronomers took a second look at an exoplanet and discovered it probably is a super-Earth.

In a significant breakthrough in man's relentless search for life beyond Earth, a new research claims to have found a planet that could host alien life.

Both planets orbit K2-18, a red-dwarf star located about 111 light-years away in the constellation Leo.

An global team of astronomers has found that a little-known exoplanet called K2-18b could be a scaled-up version of Earth, and also discovered the planet has a massive neighbor, K2-18c. Dubbed K2-18c, the planet is also a Super Earth, though because of its proximity to its star it's not likely that liquid water could exist on its surface, which makes it a lot less appealing to humans.

The latest study, by scientists at the University of Texas, Scarborough, and the University of Montreal, Canada, was conducted out using the data from the European Southern Observatory. "You have to ensure the signal isn't just noise, and you need to do a careful analysis to verify it, but seeing that initial signal was a good indication there was another planet", Cloutier said. To do so, researchers used the La Silla Observatory in Chile, pulling data sets from the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), which can detect even very tiny planets that surround stars. Radial velocities can reveal slight wobbles caused by the pull of an exoplanet's gravity on its host star.

"With the current data, we can't distinguish between those two possibilities", Cloutier said. James Webb Space Telescope is created to observe some of the most distant events and object in the cosmos in the most exceptional clarity.

"It was while looking through the data of K2-18b that we noticed something unusual", he said. According to study authors, the discovery sheds important light on the prevalence of multi-planet systems around dwarf stars like K2-18. "But with the James Webb Space Telescope we can probe the atmosphere and see whether it has an extensive atmosphere or it's a planet covered in water".

In addition to a signal occurring every 39 days from the rotation of K2-18, and one taking place every 33 days from the orbit of K2-18b, they noticed a different signal occurring every 9 days. "And from how far away it is from the star, it gives you an idea of how hot the surface of this planet might be", Cloutier told CTV News Channel on Tuesday.

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