A group of astronomers discovered the atmosphere around the planet “twin” of the Earth GJ 1132b. For the first time, an atmosphere was found around a planet similar to Earth. This presupposes the existence of extraterrestrial life forms.
The team led by Dr. John Southworth of the University of Kila in the UK used a 2.2-meter ESO / MPG telescope in Chile. The planet was absorbing a part of the light of the star around which it rotated – this was proof of the presence of an atmosphere on it, reports the Asronomic Journal and the press service of the University of Kiel.
The planet GJ 1132b is in the red dwarf system in the constellation Sail in 39 light years from Earth. According to the scientists, it is about 1.4 times larger than the Earth and 1.6 times heavier. The surface temperature is about 377 degrees Celsius. The atmosphere of GJ 1132b consists of water vapor and methane. It can withstand the radiation of its star billions of years. This is encouraging scientists. After all, this period is quite enough for the birth of life and evolution.
The planet is hotter than Earth, so scientists have suggested that this is a “water world” with an atmosphere of hot steam. A common strategy for astronomers to determine life on the planet is to study the composition of the atmosphere. The presence of living beings causes an imbalance in the chemical composition of the atmosphere.
For example, on Earth, the presence of a large amount of oxygen is a control sign of life. The team of astronomers will continue to observe changes in the atmosphere of the planet in order to draw specific conclusions.
Prior to the discovery of the Southworth team, scientists found only gas giants like high-temperature Jupiter, life on which was absolutely impossible. However, there are a lot of planets like GJ 1132b in the Universe. It is not excluded that one of them can be inhabited.
The new discovery makes the GJ 1132b one of the high-priority targets for further study by the world’s best telescopes: Hubble, ESO and the James Webb telescope, which is scheduled to be launched in 2018.