Astronomers from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand recently spotted a rocky Earth-like planet orbiting a star approximately one-tenth the size of the Sun.
There is a possibility that there are numerous exoplanets out there in the Milky Way galaxy. Interestingly, out of the 4000 exoplanets discovered to date only a third of them are rocky with a few even sharing similar orbit to the Earth. However, updates on finding a new exoplanet are always intriguing. Aren’t they?
The exoplanet found recently is 25,000 light-years away from our little blue planet. According to the astronomers, the star the exoplanet orbits is so small in size that they are unable to confirm if it’s just a very low mass or a brown dwarf (failed star).
The lead author of the paper, Dr. Herrera Martin said that the size, orbit, and location help them project out the specifications of the planet. It took them five long days to observe the host star. They were able to spot only a tiny distortion on the observation that lasted five hours. And that was the planet!
Martin explained further, “After confirming this was indeed caused by another body different from the star, and not an instrumental error, we proceeded to obtain the characteristics of the star-planet system”.
Moreover, they used the solar system as a point of reference and analyzed that the host star is about 10 percent of the mass of our Sun. Also, they found it to be in between the Earth and Neptune.
The planet has not been assigned any name yet but the microlensing event that resulted in its discovery is called OGLE-2018-BLG-0677.
Is the planet inhabitable?
After hearing the discovery of an Earth-like planet, the next thing that comes to our mind is the planet’s ability to hold life. The astronomer won’t be able to investigate any time soon as prior to this they have to figure out the temperature or nature of the host star. If it is extremely hot then it’s very unlikely to be inhabitable.
However, the search for extraterrestrial life must go on because if it evolved on Earth so may arise on other rocky exoplanets.