Atmosphere detected around Earth-like planet
A team of scientists has found that an Earth-like planet discovered in 2015 might have an atmosphere made of methane and/or water.
UNITED KINGDOM — For the first time ever, astronomers have detected an atmosphere around a planet other than earth, marking a significant step in the search for extraterrestrial life.
A team from Keele University in the United Kingdom made the discovery on planet GJ 1132b, which is roughly 1.4 times the size of earth and is located 39 light years away in the Vela constellation.
The earth-like planet orbits a red dwarf star that is smaller, cooler and dimmer than our own sun.
Dubbed “super-earth,” the planet is believed to be surrounded by a thick atmosphere rich in water or methane — or potentially both, according to university press release.
Scientists say one possibility is that GJ 1132b is a water world with an atmosphere of hot steam.
But with a surface temperature of 370 degrees Celsius, the world is unfortunately not habitable, as life on earth has only managed to survive in up to 120 degrees Celsius.
There’s still a lot more to learn about GJ 1132b, and scientists hope to be able to observe it more clearly using instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope, ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope.
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