Astronomers have found a potentially habitable exoplanet around a red dwarf

(ORDO NEWS) — Super-Earth LP 890-9 c is within the habitable zone of its star, a quiet and “soft” red dwarf.

According to the authors of the find, this is the second in the list of the most promising candidates for the existence of life outside the solar system.

A star 114 light years away has two super-Earth exoplanets.

One of them is within the “habitable zone”, in a region where the temperature is moderate enough to allow liquid water to persist on the surface of the planet, which is considered a key condition for the emergence of life.

The vast majority of known exoplanets have been discovered by the transit method, by a slight change in the radiation of the parent star at those moments when the planet passes between it and us.

Therefore, most of the exoplanets found are quite large and are gas giants, the signal from which is quite easy to detect, but which can hardly be called at least potentially habitable.

To search for worlds more suitable for life, the SPECULOOS project is being implemented at the Paranal Observatory. As part of this program, the glow of about 1700 red dwarfs is tracked.

Such stars are rather dim and cold, and if there are potentially habitable planets near them, they must be in very close orbits, which makes them easier to detect by the same transit method.

One such find is described in a new article authored by a large international team of scientists. The object of their observations was the ultracold dwarf LP 890-9 (TOI-4306), located 104 light years from the Sun.

Two exoplanets from the super-Earth class, LP 890-9 b and LP 890-9 c, have been discovered near it.

The first of these is about 30 percent larger than the Earth and is 50 times closer to the star than we are to the Sun, making a full annual revolution in 2.7 days.

LP 890-9 is slightly larger and further away: the year there lasts about 8.5 days.

Astronomers have found a potentially habitable exoplanet around a red dwarf 2 1
Comparison of the solar system and planets around the red dwarf LP 890-9

Both planets are orders of magnitude closer to their star than Mercury is to the Sun. However, the star is far from being as hot and bright as ours, so the temperature at LP 890-9 b and LP 890-9 c remains quite moderate.

The size of LP 890-9 is 6.5 times smaller than that of the Sun, and the temperature is half as low, not even reaching 2900 kelvin.

As a result, its second planet, although it is ten times closer to it than Mercury is to the Sun, remains within the habitable zone of the star.

The star LP 890-9 itself is relatively young for a red dwarf, less than seven billion years old. It is characterized by low activity, which makes its planets even more suitable for life – at least in theory.

According to the authors of the work, LP 890-9 c can be called “the second of the most habitable Earth-like planets within the habitable zone of its parent star.”

Only the worlds of the famous TRAPPIST-1 system look more advantageous.

The close range and ease of observation make potentially habitable planet LP 890-9 a convenient target for the James Webb Space Telescope to explore its atmosphere.

Perhaps such work will be done in the near future.

In the meantime, we can say that since LP 890-9 c is closer to the inner boundary of the habitable zone, its atmosphere should contain large amounts of water vapor.


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