A small planet named GJ 1132b just came with a big surprise for researchers. This space body revealed an atmosphere, which has now turned it into the most Earth-like planet currently known. The exoplanet is some 1.4 times the size of our planet, but it is still being called a “super-Earth”.
GJ 1132b Is Currently Seen As The Most Earth-Like Space Body
GJ 1132b is known to orbit a red dwarf star called GJ 1132. Both space bodies are situated some 39 light-years away from our planet, on the path towards the Vela constellation. Although the exoplanet revealed itself to have an atmosphere, it is unlikely to harbor life as we know it.
This is because the planet is believed to have a 700 degrees Fahrenheit surface temperature. Nonetheless, the fact that it sports an atmosphere is still a very relevant feature. Scientists point out that this is the first time they detected such an element around an exoplanet with an Earth-like size.
Previously, observations had already revealed a larger “super-Earth”, with a mass 8 times that of our planet. They also detected other atmospheres, but these were around Jupiter-like, gas giant stars.
“While this is not the detection of life on another planet, it’s an important step in the right direction.”
This is according to John Southworth, a Keele University researcher and first author of a new report on the matter. Details of this study and a research paper were published in The Astronomical Journal. The report was based on observation gathered by the European Southern Observatory or ESO telescope in Chile.
According to the researchers, they will continue studying GJ 1132b and its atmosphere. They will make it one of the main targets of future Hubble Space Telescope and ESO Very Large Telescope observations. They are also looking to train towards them the James Webb Space Telescope, which is set to launch in 2018.
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