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Super Earth could have the potential to support life, says astronomers



An illustration showing the size a distance of Super-Earth Barnard b, the labeled planet.

(Villanova University
)

  • Barnard b or GJ 699 is a bitterly cold planet with a mass three times the size of the earth.
  • The temperature of the planet is minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit.

A newly discovered super-Earth orbit of our second-largest star system has the potential to support life as astronomers announced this week.

Barnard b or GJ 699 is a bitterly cold planet with a mass of three times the size of the earth and temperatures floating around minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit.

Typically, planets with temperatures that frigid cannot support life.

However, a team of astrophysics participating in the American astronomical community's annual meeting in Seattle says Barnard b could still have the potential to have primitive life if a "big, hot iron / nickel core and improved geothermal activity "is present, according to a press release.

"Geothermal heating could support" life zones "beneath its surface, which are associated with subterranean lakes found in Atarctica," co-author and Villanova University astrophysicist Edward Guinan said. "We note that the surface temperature of Jupiter's icy moon Europe is similar to Barnard b, but due to tidal heating, Europe probably has floating oceans beneath its icy surface."

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Barnard b was discovered after 1

8 years of analysis and newly acquired data from an international team of astrophysicists and announced on November 18 in the journal Nature.

The planet orbits its small, cool, red dwarf star, believed to be the most common type of star in the winter road, every 233 days at about the same distance as mercury travels around the sun.

Co-author and Villanova University astrophysicist Scott Engle noted that the discovery of Barnard b shows that "the two closest star systems to the sun are now known to host planets."

"This supports previous studies based on Kepler Mission data that trigger the planets can be very common throu ghout galaxy, even numbering in tens of billions," angels said.

The researchers also noted that Barnard's Star is about twice as old as the sun or 9 billion years old.

"The universe has produced the planet's planets far beyond us, or even the sun itself, has existed," he said.

NASA notes that a super earth is a planet with a lot larger than the earth, but not as large as the ice giants in our solar system – Neptune and Uranus.

Not much else is known about Barnard b, although Guinan is convinced that future very large telescopes will give new insight.

"Such observations will shed light on the nature of the planet's atmosphere, surface and potential viability," he said.


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