Astronomers Discovered Two Earth-Like Planets in Our Galaxy

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Ever since humans have gained technological advancements they keep on searching for Earth-like planets. Recently, astronomers discovered two Earth-Like planets in our galaxy. Planets with possibly habitable environments about 12.5 light years away.

Astronomers are convinced that they have discovered two new Earth-like planets in our galaxy, and both seem to be so similar to ours. They are now among the top 19 recognized exoplanets with possibly habitable environments.

Orbiting a neighboring star in the constellation of Aries just 12.5 light years away, one of these two planets could actually have the closest resemblance to the Earth that we have so far found.

Lead author Mathias Zechmeister, an astrophysicist at the University of Göttingen explains “These two planets are very similar to the inner planets of our Solar System.”.

“They are only slightly heavier than Earth and are situated in the so-called habitable zone where liquid water may be present.”

Despite its closeness, this neighboring Teegarden’s star was only found back in 2003. Approximately ten times lighter than our own Sun and one of the smallest stars we know of. The old red dwarf, which is about 8 billion years old, is proved as a challenge to the research team.

According to the team, other planetary systems around similar stars have always been found using the transit method. In this method an orbiting planet moves in front of a star, blocking the view of Earth and causing the bright celestial object to obscure for a short time.

Also Read: Direct Pictures of a Pair of Planets That Were Born

However, Teegarden’s alignment and dimness would not lend itself to this method. So, astronomers used the next-generation CARMENES telescope specifically intended for such situations instead. The tool, located at the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain, enabled the scientists to search for any modifications in the radial velocity of the mini-star.

After observing closely for three years with more than 200 measurements and watching for any ‘wobbles’ produced, it indicated the presence of these two orbiting planets, now called as Teegarden b and Teegarden c.

The researchers complemented their observations with photometric (light measurement) data collected about Teegarden’s Star to ensure that the radial velocity data showing these planets were not spoofed by differences in the brightness of the star.

According to astronomer Victor Sánchez Béjar of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (AIS), “These studies show that the signals of these two planets cannot be due to the star’s activity, even if we have not been able to detect the transits of the two new planets.

The international team believes that the innermost planet Teegarden b has a 60 percent chance of having a temperate surface environment, somewhere between 0° to 50°C and probably closer to 28°C. On the other hand, Teegarden c sits further out and has a more Mars-like surface temperature, sitting at approximately -47 ° C.

Astronomers Discovered Two Earth-Like Planets in Our Galaxy
Astronomers Discovered Two Earth-Like Planets in Our Galaxy. (A Mendez/PHL)

The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog was created by both planets due to their minimum mass and their exposure to solar radiation. Indeed, Teegarden b has the highest Earth Similarity Index (ESI) ever scored.

Also Read: Strange Stars of our Galaxy

Although this does not necessarily mean that either planet is actually habitable, it is definitely a promising sign. Zechmeister told The Guardian that they might very well be hospitable to life if these planets are equipped with atmospheres.

The team writes in a document describing the discovery that “The Teegarden’s Star planets ‘b’ and ‘c’ are the first to be discovered around such an ultra-cool dwarf using the radial velocity method”

“Both planets have a minimum mass close to one Earth mass and are anticipated to have Earth-like radii considering the rocky, partly iron, or water structure.”

Astronomers Discovered Two Earth-Like Planets in Our Galaxy
(A Mendez/PHL)

Lauren Weiss, an astrophysicist who was not engaged in this studies at the University of Hawaii, informs National Geographic that there were still some technical details to tease out, but she was excited by the overall quality of data.

Teegarden b completes its orbit in 4.9 Earth days, and c does so in 11.4 days as predicted by the team. Weiss claims that their journey could go even quicker than that, inevitably reducing their habitability.

According to Weiss, we do not yet understand exactly how long it takes for Teegarden to rotate on its axis. Given that astronomers used radial velocity measurements to achieve their discovery, one of these planet detections may still be an artifact of the rotation of the star-but possibly not both.

As the 24th closest star system to our own and the closest fourth with possibly habitable planets, ‘Teegarden’ is an outstanding candidate for future studies, and we have been quite enthusiastic about its ability to harbor life.

Astronomy & Astrophysics has published the research.


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