There’s an Earth-like Planet which Humans could Potentially Live on just 31 Light-Years Away

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    Scientists have recently discovered an Earth-like planet that holds promising potential for supporting human life, and surprisingly, it’s not that far away.

    Okay, let’s clarify that when we say “not that far away,” we mean it in astronomical terms, so it’s still quite a distance. Nevertheless, this intriguing planet, known as “Wolf 1069 b,” is relatively close, akin to popping to the corner store for a quick errand. It’s named after the red dwarf star it orbits, Wolf 1069, although catchy names for stars are understandably limited due to their abundance.

    Ranked as the sixth-closest known Earth-like exoplanet found by astronomers, Wolf 1069 b orbits a star outside our solar system. Its proximity to us is relatively modest, a mere 31 light-years away from Earth. While that may sound like an astronomical journey, in cosmic dimensions, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away. If we were to board a spacecraft at the age of 20, we could reach this new world in our mid-fifties!

    What makes this exoplanet so fascinating to scientists is its potential habitability. Researchers believe it resides within the “habitable zone” of its solar system – that Goldilocks region where water can exist in liquid form. Too close to the star, and water would vaporize, too far away, and it would freeze.

    Of course, Earth is nestled comfortably within the Sun’s habitable zone, but there are other celestial bodies in our solar system that might harbor liquid water as well. For instance, Jupiter’s moon, Europa, shows strong evidence of an ocean beneath its icy surface. Though it could potentially sustain life, surviving in Europa’s deep ocean is far from feasible for humans.

    As for Wolf 1069 b, its proximity to its star is much closer than Earth’s to the Sun. It completes an orbit in a mere 15 days, making it even closer to its star than Mercury is to ours. If it were part of our solar system, liquid water would be impossible on its surface.

    However, due to the dimness of the star Wolf 1069, scientists speculate that the planet may still fall into the sweet spot for liquid water despite its close proximity.

    The discovery of Wolf 1069 b was made possible by the long-term CARMENES study, which focuses on finding exoplanets across the Universe. Researchers used the “radial velocity method” to detect these planets. This method involves observing a star for subtle wobbles, which could indicate the gravitational influence of an orbiting planet.

    While the notion of reaching this potentially habitable planet is still beyond our current capabilities, the discovery opens up exciting possibilities for further exploration and understanding of exoplanets in the cosmic neighborhood. As science and technology progress, the dream of interstellar travel and the search for habitable worlds may someday become a reality.

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