Apr 08, 2017 09:03 AM EDT
An international team of renowned astronomers utilized a ground-based telescope to detect the traces of an atmosphere surrounding a near exoplanet. The possible alien world is located just about 39 light years away from Earth.
Interestingly, this exoplanet measures pretty much like the Earth. Thus, it holds the record for the smallest planet to host an atmosphere. While detecting such life support systems in bigger planets is nothing special, finding an Earth-sized planet with water and atmosphere is a truly different story.
In fact, per Smithsonian, this is the first time for planetary experts to meet such a promising celestial body. Otherwise known as GJ 1132b, it is only 1.4 times larger than the radius of the Earth. It sits in the Vela constellation and revolves around the dwarf star named GJ1132.
The astronomers first noticed the exoplanet's atmosphere while taking images of its host star using the 2.2-meter ESO/MPG telescope in Chile. When GJ1132b passed its sun, the experts measured its light at different wavelengths. Now, in one particular wavelength, the planet looked larger and dimmer, suggesting that it absorbed some of the light from the star. Well, that is the sign of a present atmosphere.
Unfortunately, GJ1132b's sky is probably made up of steam or methane gas. Gizmodo reported that it has a temperature of at least 2, 050 degrees Celsius. Actually, it is too close to its star that it may have more of the characteristic of Venus than that of the Earth.
Obviously, a planet with water and atmosphere will still not support humans in such hot conditions. Nevertheless, experts still do not give up the chance of finding extreme alien life forms in it. For the record, GJ1132b is the most Earth-like planet with atmosphere known to man. The 55 Cancri e also thrives with atmosphere but it appears more like Jupiter.
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