A new planet similar to Earth has been discovered and is the second-closest found to our solar system – only 11 light-years away
The planet is believed to be able to support life. What makes Ross 128 b unique, besides its human-sounding name, is that it is highly similar to Earth: is about the same size as Earth and has a similar surface temperature, making it a world that could support life.
Even more interesting, the planet completes an orbit around its host star, Ross 128, every 9.9 days. Its host star is known as a red dwarf star: the coolest, faintest and most common stars found in the entire universe.
Due to the fact that exoplanets have been found close to these types of stars, red dwarfs are closely being studied and observed with increasing frequency to find more exoplanets.
Ross 128 and its planet were found by astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s planet – a hunting instrument called HARPS, based at La Silla Observatory in Chile.
“To be involved in such a discovery is very rewarding, and it helps to realize that so much effort is worth it,” Nicola Astudillo-Defru, one of the study’s co-authors at the University of Geneva’s observatory, wrote in an email. “The special properties of this system means that we are contributing our bit on the search of a Earth 2.0.”
There have been also other discoveries of planets around these types of stars, such as the TRAPPIST planets and Proxima b. Just as Ross 128 b, they are also taken into consideration as possible hopes for supporting life outside our solar system.