Astronomers Find Earth-Like Habitable Planet “Wolf 1061c,” Which is ‘JUST’ 14 Light Years Away!

By: | December 30th, 2015

Artist’s impression of planets orbiting a type M class red dwarf star. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers from the University of New South Wales in Australia may have found the closest habitable planet to Earth, named Wolf 1061c. With this discovery, we may have a chance to meet aliens!

Wolf 1061c is located in the constellation Ophiucus, and its star is the 35th closest star to Earth. This planet and two more planets are orbiting around Wolf 1061. All three are suspected to be solid and rocky.

Wolf 1061 is ‘just’ 14 light years (126 trillion kilometers) away from Earth. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year. Light travels a distance of 186,000 miles each second. So one light-year is almost 5.88 trillion miles.

Wolf 1061 is not as hot as our sun, with a surface temperature of around 3,300 Kelvin. Our sun regularly hits 5,800 Kelvin.

Out of three planets, the one that is orbiting closest to Wolf 1061 is thought to be too hot for life, and the furthest away is thought to be too cold. However the middle one, Wolf 1061c, exists within the “Goldilocks zone” and it looks to be just right for life.

As per UNSW’s Duncan Wright, out of all the planets that are found to be habitable, none are as close to Earth as Wolf 1061c. Because of the close proximity of this planet to us, there is good chance to find out more about it.

One of the researchers, Rob Wittenmyer, said, “The close proximity of the planets around Wolf 1061 means there is a good chance these planets may pass across the face of the star. If they do, then it may be possible to study the atmospheres of these planets in the future to see whether they would be conducive to life.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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