Researchers Discover an Atmosphere Around an Earth-Like Planet, Raising the Tantalizing Possibility of Life Beyond Our Solar System

By: | May 14th, 2017

Image courtesy MPIA

In a big discovery, astronomers have detected an atmosphere around an Earth-like exoplanet Gliese 1132b (GJ 1132b for short). It is no doubt a major step in discovering potential extraterrestrial life.

Located 39 light-years away in the Vela constellation in the southern hemisphere, GJ 1132b has a mass and radius slightly greater than Earth. GJ 1132b orbits a red dwarf star and astronomers call it ‘super-Earth.’

As per lead researcher John Southworth from Keele University in the UK, “While this is not the detection of life on another planet, it’s an important step in the right direction: the detection of an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b marks the first time that an atmosphere has been detected around an Earth-like planet other than Earth itself.”

Although scientists found the atmosphere, they doubt that this world is habitable, as it has a surface temperature of 370C.

Dr. Southworth said, “To my knowledge the hottest temperature that life has been able to survive on Earth is 120C and that’s far cooler than this planet.”

This research was published in the Astronomical Journal. Now scientists are looking forward to unraveling many more secrets of GJ 1132b with the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Telescope which is scheduled to launch in 2018.

Nidhi Goyal

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

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