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Astronomy & Science

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BREAKING: Astronomers Have Found an Earth-Like Planet Practically Next-Door to Us


A new exoplanet somewhat larger than Earth and orbiting a red dwarf star 66.5 light-years distant has been identified by astronomers. According to experts, it is a promising possibility to help fill the vast knowledge void regarding our galaxy’s limited number of rocky planets.

Since the discovery of the first extrasolar planet in 1992, our detection capabilities and knowledge of extrasolar planets have nearly exploded. As of this writing, about 4,100 exoplanets have been verified in our galaxy, and we have a far better understanding of planetary systems and how they arise and change.



However, because we are searching for tiny, dim, or dark objects that are difficult to observe from a distance, the great majority of confirmed exoplanets are ice and gas giants bigger than Neptune.

The exoplanet-hunting missions Kepler and TESS have boosted the frequency of detections of smaller exoplanets: those with masses comparable to those of Earth and Venus, and hence more likely to be rocky than gaseous. (This is a necessary condition for life as we know it.) According to a multinational team lead by MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research astronomer Avi Shporer, however, these rocky planets are challenging to measure and describe.

This is due to the fact that we seldom discover them near stars bright enough to permit thorough follow-up observations.

The finding of this new exoplanet is therefore very cool. The team’s article has been published to arXiv and is awaiting peer review, but its findings are, to say the least, tantalizing. “We announce here the discovery of GJ 1252 b, a tiny planet that orbits a M dwarf. Using TESS data, the planet was first detected as a potential transiting planet,” the researchers wrote.

“Based on TESS data and other follow-up evidence, we are able to rule out all false-positive situations, demonstrating that the planet is real.”

GJ 1252 b is approximately 1.2 times the size of the Earth and roughly twice as massive (so a bit denser than our home planet). It orbits the red dwarf star GJ 1252, which is approximately 40 percent the size and mass of the Sun.

The exoplanet circles its star once every 12.4 hours, which is much too close for habitability and is likely tidally locked, with one side constantly facing the star. However, the exoplanet is intriguing for another reason due to its tight orbit.

The system is just 66.5 light-years away, which is close enough for the star to be sufficiently bright for the requested follow-up studies. In addition, the red dwarf is unusually calm for a star of its type, and the planet’s frequent orbit provides many opportunities to observe it passing in front of its host.

This is referred to as a transit, and if the planet has an atmosphere, it will be backlit by the star’s light during transits, enabling astronomers to possibly conduct spectroscopic examinations to determine what is within the atmosphere.

Astronomers Have Discovered a Planet Like Earth

And here’s another incredible fact: GJ 1252 b is only the most recent of numerous neighboring rocky planets found by TESS.

In September of last year, Pi Mensae c and LHS 3844 b were announced; TOI-270b is 73 light-years away; Teegarden b and Teegarden c are 12.5 light-years away; and Gliese b, Gliese c, and Gliese d are 12 light-years away.

The more of these nearby rocky planets we discover, the more data we can collect on them to determine how common they are and what they are like – whether Earth is an outlier and most rocky planets are barren wasteland like Mercury, Venus, and Mars, or whether they are a more common type of planet in the Milky Way.

Obviously, this has consequences for the search for alien life. However, further rocky exoplanets must first be located. GJ 1252 b might be a suitable starting point. The researchers wrote in their paper, “The closeness and brightness of the host star, as well as the short orbital period, make this star-planet system an attractive candidate for detailed characterisation.”

Future Gaia astrometric data paired with long-term radial velocity monitoring will be used to examine the planet’s atmosphere and seek for any previously unidentified stars, brown dwarfs, or large planets circling the host star.

The research was submitted to the American Astronomical Society and is available on arXiv.

More information on this Earth-like planet may be found on the official NASA website.