Astronomers uncover uncommon ‘exo-Venus’ simply 40 light-years away

Gliese 12 b, which orbits a cool, red dwarf star located just 40 light-years away, promises to tell astronomers more about how planets close to their stars retain or lose their atmospheres. In this artist’s concept, Gliese 12 b is shown retaining a thin atmosphere.
Gliese 12 b, which orbits a cool, crimson dwarf star positioned simply 40 light-years away, guarantees to inform astronomers extra about how planets near their stars retain or lose their atmospheres. In this artist’s idea, Gliese 12 b is proven retaining a skinny ambiance. NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (Caltech-IPAC)

Astronomers have found a uncommon kind of planet referred to as an “exo-Venus,” which is between the scale of Earth and Venus and is positioned simply 40 light-years away — virtually in our again yard. Although scientists suppose that planets of this dimension could possibly be quite common in our galaxy, they’re onerous to determine as a result of they’re a lot smaller than the large fuel giants which are extra generally found. This new planet additionally appears to have related temperatures to Earth, and finding out it might assist to elucidate how atmospheres develop and the way Earth grew to become liveable.

The planet is called Gliese 12 b and was recognized utilizing a variety of Earth-based telescopes in addition to NASA’s TESS area telescope. It orbits its host star, referred to as Gliese 12, in simply 12.8 Earth days, so it is extremely shut in and a 12 months there’s extraordinarily quick. However, as a result of the star is a cool crimson dwarf kind, it’s estimated to keep up a comparatively comfy temperature of 42°C (107°F), making it a lot cooler than most exoplanets found to this point.

However, that estimate assumes that the planet doesn’t have an environment. It could possibly be with out ambiance, have an Earth-like ambiance, or it might have a particularly thick ambiance like Venus, which might increase its temperature to tons of of levels. Researchers are eager to be taught whether or not there’s an environment there, not solely to learn about its habitability (whether or not liquid water might exist on the planet’s floor) but in addition to allow them to find out about how atmospheres develop round rocky planets.

“Gliese 12 b represents one of the best targets to study whether Earth-size planets orbiting cool stars can retain their atmospheres, a crucial step to advance our understanding of habitability on planets across our galaxy,” mentioned lead writer Shishir Dholakia of the University of Southern Queensland in Australia in a statement. “Much of the scientific value of this planet is to understand what kind of atmosphere it could have. Since Gliese 12 b gets in between the amount of light as Earth and Venus get from the Sun, it will be valuable for bridging the gap between these two planets in our solar system.”

An enormous matter of analysis in planetary science proper now could be why Earth and Venus diverged. The planets are an identical dimension and distance from the solar, and could once have been similar. But right this moment, the Earth is teeming with life and Venus is a hellish world of utmost temperature and stress. Studying planets like Gliese 12 b might assist clarify how this divergence occurred and whether or not Earth-like or Venus-like is the extra frequent end result.

“We know of only a handful of temperate planets similar to Earth that are both close enough to us and meet other criteria needed for this kind of study, called transmission spectroscopy, using current facilities,” mentioned one other researcher, Michael McElwain of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “To better understand the diversity of atmospheres and evolutionary outcomes for these planets, we need more examples like Gliese 12 b.”

The analysis is printed within the journal the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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