Scientists plan to search for life on the Earth-like exoplanet Wolf 1069 b
(ORDO NEWS) — A team of astronomers have discovered a very intriguing rocky planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a relatively close star.
Since the exoplanet orbits its star at a distance that can provide such conditions on the surface that liquid water exists there , scientists plan to explore this Earth-like world for possible traces of extraterrestrial life.
Of the more than 5,000 exoplanets we have discovered, a tiny minority have masses less than two Earth masses.
Of these, only a dozen are known to be in the habitable zone of the parent star. In other words, we are talking about a very rare and promising world.
The planet, named Wolf 1069 b, is located in a star system in the constellation Cygnus, 31 light years away from Earth.
But the conditions for life on a rocky exoplanet are not as pleasant as on Earth, since it receives 35% less heat from its star than Earth from the Sun. This means that its surface is likely to be much colder.
Assuming the planet is bare rock, the average temperature could be around -23 degrees Celsius. But in the presence of a dense, Earth-like atmosphere, surface temperatures can reach a very habitable 12 degrees Celsius.
In addition, a dense atmosphere is needed to protect the exoplanet’s surface from damaging ultraviolet radiation from the star Wolf 1069, which is a red dwarf. Red dwarfs are especially aggressive stars that are capable of “filling up” planets trapped in their orbit with destructive radiation.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the exoplanet Wolf 1069 b actually has an atmosphere.
To make matters worse, Wolf 1069 b is in a tidal relationship with its parent star, meaning that it has eternal day on one side and eternal night on the other.
Thus, if there is life on Wolf 1069 b, then it can only live on the thin borders between eternal day and night.
And yet, 31 light years is a gigantic distance, yet insurmountable for our tools that can help in the detection of biosignatures.
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