A little-known planet beyond our solar system has been found and it could be a scaled-up version of Earth.
New research found the distant exoplanet, known as K2-18b, and have hailed it a ‘super Earth’ made up of rock, just like our planet.
K2-18b is an ideal candidate to hold liquid water on its surface, and thus it has great potential for alien life.
Researchers from the University of Texas, Scarborough, and the University of Montreal also found that the ‘super Earth’ has a neighbour.
The name of this neighbour? You guessed it, K2-18c.
This is could be another rocky super Earth, but is unlikely to host alien life according to the scientists.
Both the planets orbit the red dwarf star K2-18, which is located 111 light years from Earth in the constellation Leo.
The new study used data collected by the European Southern Observatory which is based in Munich, Germany.
Lead author Ryan Cloutier said:
Being able to measure the mass and density of K2-18b was tremendous, but to discover a new exoplanet was lucky and equally exciting.
If you can get the mass and radius, you can measure the bulk density of the planet and that can tell you what the bulk of the planet is made of.
With the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) we can probe the atmosphere and see whether it has an extensive atmosphere or it’s a planet covered in water.
The researchers set out to find whether K2-18b was a bigger version of Earth made mostly of rock, or a scaled-down version of Neptune made mostly of gas.
The team found it was a mostly rocky planet with a gaseous atmosphere, like that of Earth’s, or it was a water planet with a thick layer of ice on top of it.
The newly described K2-18c is closer to its star and probably too hot to be in the habitable zone.
K2-18b will be a prime target for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope when it launches in 2019.
Co-author of the study, Professor René Doyon, said:
There’s a lot of demand to use this telescope, so you have to be meticulous in choosing which exoplanets to look at.
K2-18b is now one of the best targets for atmospheric study, it’s going to the near top of the list.
In other NASA-related alien news, they just received a response from the void, and believers everywhere are losing their collective minds.
After 37 years of inactivity, the NASA spacecraft Voyager 1 fired up its thrusters for the first time in nearly four decades all the way over in interstellar space.
This incredible – and unsuspected – triumph means Voyager 1 can once again communicate with Earth, from 13 billion miles away.
Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said:
With these thrusters that are still functional after 37 years without use, we will be able to extend the life of the Voyager 1 spacecraft by two to three years.
Looking for some hot stuff? I fired backup thrusters for the first time in 37 years, and they worked like a champ. This could extend my life 2-3 years. https://t.co/N0pF3nvOkOpic.twitter.com/V35vMbrHCr
— NASA Voyager (@NASAVoyager) December 2, 2017
The thruster test went so well, the team will likely do a similar test on the TCM thrusters for Voyager 2, which is also on course to enter interstellar space, likely within the next few years.
To infinity and beyond!