One of the nearest exoplanets to Earth may be a decent abode for life.
Ross 128b — which lies just 11 light-years from our planet — is likely a rocky and temperate world, a new study suggests.
This artist’s illustration shows the potentially temperate planet Ross 128b, with its red dwarf parent star in the background.Credit: M. Kornmesser/ESO
“Although Ross 128b is not Earth’s twin, and there is still much we don’t know about its potential geologic activity, we were able to strengthen the argument that it’s a temperate planet that could potentially have liquid water on its surface,” lead author Diogo Souto, of the Observatório Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said in a statement.
Ross 128b has excited and intrigued astrobiologists since its discovery last year. The planet appears to circle in the “habitable zone” of its host star — that just-right range of distances where liquid water could exist on a world’s surface. (Ross 128b circles a small, dim red dwarf star, so the habitable zone is quite close in; the planet completes one orbit every 9.9 Earth days.)
Initial estimates also indicated that Ross 128b has a minimum mass just 1.35 times that of Earth and ...