European planetologists found in the constellation of China relatively small stony planet, which is in the “zone of life” and has a dense atmosphere.
Over the past year, scientists have found several planets at once, which claim if not for the title of “Earth’s double”, then its “sisters” or “cousins.” The first was found near the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, and three others – in the star system TRAPPIST-1 in the constellation of Aquarius, which inhabits just seven earth-like planets.
They are united by the fact that they are small in size, they are in the “zone of life” – in the orbit where water can exist in liquid form, and revolve around red dwarfs. The last point is both plus and minus – red dwarfs live very long, which leaves a lot of time for the birth of life. However, some of them are extremely troublesome in their youth, they produce a lot of ultraviolet radiation and generate a large number of flares capable of destroying the atmospheres of the planets.
The planets of TRAPPIST-1, and Proxima Centaurus b are good candidates for the role of potentially inhabited planets, but they have serious “shortcomings”. The planets in the constellation of Aquarius most likely resonate with the star and always look at it with one side, and the frequency of flashes on the Centaurus Proxima can make life on its companion virtually impossible. In addition, the mass and dimensions of all these planets have not yet been accurately calculated.
Dittman and his colleagues argue that the planet LHS 1140b discovered by them is devoid of such shortcomings. It revolves around a calm star, it has an atmosphere, it consists of rocky rocks and has dimensions comparable to Earth – its diameter is 1.4 times greater than the earth’s diameter, and the mass is six times higher.
This planet, like many other analogs of the Earth and Venus, was discovered using the MEarth-South automated telescope in the Chilean mountains of Cerro Tololo, specifically designed to search for planets in dim and cold red dwarfs.
Like its “competitors”, it is located inside the zone of life, about 11 times closer than the Earth from the Sun. Here, despite the proximity of the planet to the light, it receives only 50% of that heat and light that the Sun gives to the Earth, since LHS 1140 is a rather dull and cold star. Therefore, the climate on it may be closer to the Martian than to the earth.
Planets of such sizes, as scientists now suppose, often turn out to be aquatic worlds, whose surface is completely covered by the ocean, but in the case of the LHS 1140b this is not so – its large mass indicates that it is mostly composed of hard rocks. For this reason, the force of attraction on its surface is about three times stronger than on Earth, which can have a specific effect on possible life.
Both the planet and the star have existed for more than five billion years, which indicates that life on it could already have arisen under the appropriate conditions. In the near future, Dittman and his colleagues plan to conduct a session of observations of the atmosphere of the planet with the help of the Hubble, which will help us understand whether the LHS 1140b is capable of sustaining life, whether it has a greenhouse effect and how much heat it actually receives.