Scientists Just Discovered an Alien Planet That’s The Best Candidate for Life As We Know It.
Just 39 light years away, no problem for NASA EM drive.
We could 'hardly hope for a better target' to find aliens, researchers say.
At the moment the star, which is named LHS 1140 and is in the constellation Cetus or the sea monster, is at a point that means it would be particularly useful to any alien life supported by it.
"The present conditions of the red dwarf are particularly favourable LHS 1140 spins more slowly and emits less high-energy radiation than other similar low-mass stars," said team member Nicola Astudillo-Defru from the Geneva Observatory, Switzerland, in a statement.
Scientists found the star by seeing it block out a little of the sun's light when it passes in front of it, every 25 days. Its orbit is seen almost edge-on from Earth, making it easier to spot.
The star might also help give the planet water and an atmosphere, which are both required for life as we know it to exist. Red dwarfs usually send out radiation that could damage any environment, but the new star is so big that it could support a magma ocean on its surface that would send out steam into the atmosphere and help keep it replenished with water.
The super-Earth is about five billion years old, according to the astronomers that found it. It has a diameter about 1.4 times bigger than Earth, they said, but it has a much larger mass and density, meaning that it is probably made of rock and has a dense iron core.
The planet might be an even better candidate than other, recently announced best hopes for life, like Proxima b or Trappist-1, the researchers said.
Scientists will be able to use new observations from the Hubble Space Telescope to work out exactly how much radiation falls on the planet, and so how good it might be at supporting life. In the future, they will be able to use new and more powerful equipment like the Extremely Large Telescope to get detailed pictures of the atmospheres of the exoplanets, and understand what life might be like there.