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Could there be life on newly discovered planet?

Could there be life on newly discovered planet?

The planet, which is called a super-Earth, orbits a red dwarf star 40 light years away.

According to a new publication in Nature, the global team of astronomers with the Mearth project used an array of eight telescopes at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile to find LHS 1140b.

By measuring how much light the planet blocks, the team determined that it was about 11,000 miles (17,703 kilometres) in diameter, or about 40 per cent larger than Earth.

With thousands of planets now confirmed, each day we get a little closer to that futuristic "Star Trek" mission credo "to explore odd new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations".

Astronomers have found yet another planet that seems to have just the right Goldilocks combination for life: Not so hot and not so cold.

The exoplanet sits in the habitable zone of a faint red dwarf star, dubbed LHS 1140, in the distant constellation Cetus.

In April, astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy detected atmosphere around Gliese 1132b, the first time an atmosphere was detected around a low-mass super-Earth. During that time, the habitable zone of the star would be much further out, which means that LHS 1140b was exceptionally heated.

The study was presented on Wednesday and describing Super Earth, also called LHS 1140b.

We still do not understand why Earth is so well-balanced. Not to be undone, scientists revealed earlier this year that TRAPPIST-1 hosts not just three, but at least seven worlds, a handful of which could be habitable. There are already concerns about the habitability of Proxima b, which, like LHS 1140b, orbits a red dwarf.

According to Jason Dittman at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics teaches planet mean the best chance so far in the search for life outside our own solar system.

Still, studying LHS-1140b will mainly be for the future. Although it is thirty nine light years away, scientists believe that they will be able to discern whether or not LHS 1140b has an atmosphere and contains life thanks to several new generation high-powered telescopes due to come into service fairly soon. Using ESO's HARPS instrument and a range of telescopes around the world, the astronomers located the exoplanet orbiting the dim star - LHS 1140 - within its habitable zone. But it can be studied in great detail only when the next-generation of large telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch next year, the Thirty Meter Telescope, and the Giant Magellan Telescope come online.

"I really want to emphasise that both our system and TRAPPIST-1 are exciting and both worthy of intense future study", he told Gizmodo. "We've been delighted to hear about the discovery of LHS by our colleagues from Harvard", he said.

When red dwarfs are young, they emit radiation that can damage the planets around them.

"Realistically, we're going to be getting our first tastes of these atmospheres sometime in the next decade", Dittmann says.

"What I truly find exciting is that we have a potentially habitable, rocky planet orbiting a nearby star that is now very calm and stable and doesn't flare", Dittmann said. Once it's completed, JWT will be the most powerful space-based telescope ever deployed - it will be used to peer into the atmospheres of all of these planets and more.


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