One of 15 New Exoplanets Could Be Home to Alien Life

first_img Scientists have spotted 15 new planets—including one possibly habitable “super-Earth”—orbiting red dwarf stars within our galaxy.A team of researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology found that the outermost planet of the K2-155 system could potentially have liquid water on its surface.“In our simulations, the atmosphere and the composition of the planet [known as K2-155d] were assumed to be Earth-like,” according to Teruyuki Hirano, visiting professor with Tokyo Tech’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.But until more data can be obtained, there is no guarantee that’s true.The prospect of discovering alien life aside, this sort of investigation into planets that form around small, cool celestial bodies could help experts better understand the solar system.It’s not uncommon for red dwarfs—the most common type of star in the Milky Way—to be surrounded by exoplanets. But new studies suggest those planets may have “remarkably similar” characteristics to the ones circling solar-type stars.“It’s important to note that the number of planets around red dwarfs is much smaller than the number around solar-type stars,” Hirano said in a statement.That is probably due to photoevaporation, which can strip away a planet’s atmosphere.Researchers also managed to back up theories regarding the metal content of a star.“Large planets are only discovered around metal-rich stars,” Hirano said. “And what we found was consistent with our predictions. The few planets with a radius about three times that of Earth were found orbiting the most metal-rich red dwarfs.”This is only the beginning, though: Hirano & Co. around counting on NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to discover even more planets.“TESS is expected to find many candidate planets around bright stars closer to Earth,” he said of the two-year mission set for launch next month. “This will greatly facilitate follow-up observations, including investigation of planetary atmospheres and determining the precise orbit of the planets.”Tokyo Tech’s findings, based on data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft and follow-up observations using ground-based telescopes, are detailed in two papers published in The Astronomical Journal. Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. NASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This WeekendHubble Captures Saturn’s ‘Phonograph Record’ Ring System center_img Stay on targetlast_img