(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have found that the planet GJ 1252b, orbiting a star of spectral type M, has no atmosphere at all.
Because such stars are the most common in the universe, and because they often have Earth-like planets around them, the discovery could significantly narrow the search for extraterrestrial life.
Stars of spectral type M are the most common in the universe, often planets resembling Earth revolve in their habitable zone.
Exploring one of these planets GJ 1252b, scientists from the University of California at Riverside (USA) came to the conclusion that it has no atmosphere at all and, therefore, cannot be home to living beings.
GJ 1252b is slightly larger than the Earth, but is located much closer to its star than our planet is to the Sun. In one Earth day, she manages to make two revolutions around her star.
Apparently, the pressure of the star’s radiation turned out to be so great that it completely destroyed the planet’s atmosphere.
Due to solar radiation, the Earth also loses part of its atmosphere. However, volcanic activity and other carbon cycle processes make this loss barely noticeable.
Being close to its star, GJ 1252b cannot replace the lost amounts of carbon dioxide in the same way. In the solar system, this fate befell Mercury.
The authors of the new study measured the infrared radiation of the planet during the secondary eclipse. This type of eclipse occurs when a planet passes behind a star.
Measurements have shown that the daytime temperature on GJ 1252b reaches 1228 degrees Celsius. This and the low surface pressure led the researchers to conclude that the planet has no atmosphere at all.
The simulations also showed that even if GJ 1252b had 700 times more carbon dioxide than Earth, it still wouldn’t be able to hold on to the atmosphere around it. M-type stars tend to have more bursts of activity than the Sun, further reducing the likelihood that their surrounding planets could be habitable.
The state of GJ 1252b could be bad news for astrobiologists, as there are about five thousand stars in the vicinity of the Sun, most of which are M-dwarfs. They are one of the research targets of the James Webb Space Telescope.
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