Thursday, April 6, 2017
Astronomers just discovered something awesome about the most Earth-like planet ever found
Finding planets in the depths of space that bear similarities to Earth is a long and complicated process. First we have to find the planet itself, then we have to determine its size, take an educated guess as to what it’s made out of, and figure out how far away it sits from its star. If all of those tests, readings, and measurements come back in the right neighborhood, scientists have to determine if the world has an atmosphere, because without that there’s essentially zero chance that life is or could be supported on its surface.
GJ 1132b has managed to make it past all of those hurdles, but even that strict criteria doesn’t confirm the planet’s ability to host living things. The planet is thought to be quite hot, with temperatures at or above those of Venus, which is hundreds of degrees hotter than Earth. If life does exist on the planet, it could be dramatically different from anything humans have ever imagined, but we won’t know for certain for a long while. In the meantime, researchers are suggesting that observatories around the world give the planet some special attention going forward.