Astronomers discover rare rocky exoplanet with Earth-like mass

(ORDO NEWS) — The newly discovered exoplanet may show signs of life. The planet Wolf 1069 b orbits a red dwarf in the habitable zone.

Wolf 1069 b has a mass approximately equal to that of the Earth. It is highly likely that this is a rocky planet that may have an atmosphere.

Of the more than 5,000 exoplanets discovered so far, only about a dozen have Earth-like masses and are in the habitable zone.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute analyzed data from Wolf 1069 b and found that the planet orbits the star in 15.6 days at a distance equivalent to one fifteenth of the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

The planet’s rotation is likely tidally locked to the orbit of the parent star. Thus, on one side of the planet it is always eternal day, while on the other side it is always night.

If we assume that Wolf 1069 b is a bare and rocky planet, then the average temperature, even on the side facing the star, will be only minus 23 degrees Celsius.

However, it is possible that Wolf 1069 b formed the atmosphere. Then, according to climate models, its temperature could rise to plus 13 degrees.

The atmosphere would also protect Wolf 1069 b from high-energy electromagnetic radiation and particles that could destroy possible biomolecules.

Radiation and particles come either from interstellar space or from the central star.

If the star’s radiation is too intense, it can also rob the planet of its atmosphere, as happened to Mars. But the red dwarf Wolf 1069 emits only relatively weak radiation.

Thus, a newly discovered planet may have an atmosphere. It is even possible that Wolf 1069 b has a magnetic field that protects it from the charged particles of the stellar wind.

Many rocky planets have a liquid core that generates a magnetic field through a dynamo effect similar to the planet Earth.


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