(ORDO NEWS) — When it comes to looking for life on other planets, a warm and humid world filled with a complex chemical soup may not be enough. It would be beneficial to have suitable planets in the neighborhood.
An intriguing pair of gas giants have been discovered orbiting a star so similar to the Sun that it could almost be its twin. teach us something about solar systems like ours.
Just 175 light-years away, the star HIP 104045 appears to have at least two large worlds orbiting it, one about half the mass of Jupiter in a 6.3-year orbit, and the other about 2. 5 times the mass of Neptune in a 316-day orbit.
This discovery, presented in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and available on the arXiv preprint server, helps us understand the variety of systems that can orbit stars like the Sun in the hope of finally finding a second Earth.
Since it is known that the only place in the Universe that develops is the biosphere, the Earth is our only blueprint for the conditions necessary for life.
But the Earth does not exist in isolation; there is an entire planetary system around it, as well as seven other planets, countless asteroids and dwarf planets, as well as our star, the Sun.
Recent studies show that the architecture of the planetary system plays an important role in the habitability of the planet under Earth conditions. The presence of asteroids and comets that can deliver certain ingredients to the planet is very important.
Jupiter also seems to play an important role: it protects the inner solar system from constant bombardment by small rocks, guarding both. the asteroid belt and the asteroids orbiting it.
But its enormous gravity can also disrupt the orbits of these smaller bodies, throwing them into the interior of the solar system. Early in the system’s history, Jupiter likely played an important role in helping these rocks reach Earth.
If we want to minimize our options for searching for life, we could do worse than look for Jupiter-like planets. and for other reasons.
“Jupiter analogs form predominantly around stars with near-solar metallicity, and, surprisingly, potentially habitable low-mass planets may be common around stars that host cool Jupiter,” writes an international team of astronomers led by Thiago Ferreira of Sun University. – Paulo in Brazil.
“Small Earth-sized planets are more common than giant planets. These factors set precedents for the search for terrestrial planets around the Sun. -like stars, primarily looking for planets like Jupiter.”
Since 2014, astronomers have been using the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Search (HARPS) instrument on the 3.6-meter La Silla Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Atacama Desert to search for planets around sun-like stars.
On paper, HIP 104045 is almost perfect. Its metallic content is very similar to that of the sun. It is about 4.5 billion years old; The sun is 4.57 billion years old. HIP 104045 is only 1.03 times the mass of the Sun, 1.05 times the solar radius, and 1.11 times the solar luminosity.
When Ferreira and his colleagues analyzed the light from HIP 104045, they found evidence that there is one world, not two.
The first world, at 0.498 times the mass of Jupiter, is what is known as a Jupiter analogue: an exoplanet between 0.3 and 3 times the mass of Jupiter, with an orbit between 3 and 7 AU. from a star, which is likely to play the same dynamic role as Jupiter in our solar system.
The second exoplanet is super-Neptune. The mass of our own Neptune is 17 Earth masses, and this discovery weighs about 43 masses. times the mass of the earth.
Since the upper limit for rocky worlds is thought to be around 10 Earth masses, the planet is unlikely to be an terrestrial world like ours, but rather gaseous in nature.
But it is within at least what is known as the optimistic habitable zone. The habitable zone is the range of distances from the host star that is within the temperature range of liquid water; the optimistic habitable zone is a wider range of distances where habitable temperatures are possible, but you can try your luck a bit.
Just don’t get your hopes up. The planet doesn’t pass between us and its star, so we don’t currently have the ability to analyze its atmosphere for biosignatures.
Could there still be a small rocky world orbiting HIP 104045 filled with alien goo? While we might hope that the discovery of a Jupiter analog suggests that an Earth-like world lurks nearby, the fact that a super-Neptune orbiting relatively close to the star disproves that idea.
The presence of the super-team says that Neptune is another reason to think that our own solar system is indeed atypical, since systems like ours are found in about 1 percent of sun-like stars.
Of course we don’t. t even close to enough information yet. There are many stars there. So we’ll just keep looking.
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