Perhaps everybody is wondering how would it be like if our dreams of encountering aliens will become true. Many astronomers have that goal in mind when they are exploring space, and the ideal places to look for extraterrestrial life might be on planets that are about the same size as ours.
A newfound exoplanet about the same size as Earth is located surprisingly close to us – it orbits a red dwarf star just 66.5 light-years away. While it is a distance impossible to cross with our current spaceships, at an astronomical scale, it means practically nothing.
GJ 1252 b is its name
Astronomers discovered GJ 1252 b while examining data provided by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) space telescope. The planet is only 1.2 times the size of Earth, and two times more massive. The red dwarf star that it orbits is the one called GJ 1252, and it’s more than half the mass and size of our Sun.
Unfortunately, the chances for life to exist on GJ 1252 b are very low. The planet makes a full rotation around its host star once every 12.4 hours, which means it’s too close for life as we know it to develop itself.
The discovery is truly exciting
Don’t be sad because we might not have the chance to find any aliens dwelling on GJ 1252 b. The discovery is exciting for some other good reason, at least: the activity of the red dwarf star, and the short orbital period allow scientists to investigate as much as possible both the planet and also the star system itself.
Since the planet orbits the host star so often, it gives astronomers enough chances to spot a transit (the moment when the planet gets in front of the host star) and thus, they can engage in further observations. In their paper, the researchers are confirming this:
The host star proximity and brightness and the short orbital period make this star-planet system an attractive target for detailed characterisation,
These investigations include studying the planet’s atmosphere, and using future Gaia astrometric data, combined with long term radial velocity monitoring, to look for any currently unknown star, brown dwarf, or massive planet orbiting the host star.
The study has been sent to the American Astronomical Society, and it’s also available on arXiv.