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Newly discovered exoplanet may be able to support life, astronomers say

/ 05:00 PM August 01, 2019

A team of astronomers has discovered an exoplanet, a planet outside the solar system, that may have conditions that are suitable to sustain life. 

The group of astronomers found the exoplanet in a constellation called Hydra which is around 31 light-years from Earth, as per NASA yesterday, July 31. One light-year is about 10 trillion kilometers.

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Exoplanet

Visual representation of the exoplanet GJ 357 d in the habitable zone surrounding the star it orbits. Image: Screengrab from NASA’s video “TESS Helps Reveal Multiple Planets, Including Promising World” via YouTube/NASA Goddard

The exoplanet, named GJ 357 d, was found using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). It is said to be around twice the size of Earth and harbor six times Earth’s mass. 

TESS is a NASA mission that searches for planets orbiting the brightest stars in Earth’s sky.

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Since the exoplanet orbits around its host star at about a fifth of the distance Earth revolves around the sun, it may have conditions similar to Earth, as per Cornell Chronicle yesterday.

“This is exciting, as this is humanity’s first nearby super-Earth that could harbor life – uncovered with help from TESS, our small, mighty mission with a huge reach,” Lisa Kaltenegger, a member of the TESS science team, said in the report.

“If the planet has a dense atmosphere, which will take future studies to determine, it could trap enough heat to warm the planet and allow liquid water on its surface,” Diana Kossakowski, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, said in the report by NASA yesterday.

Kaltenegger also said that if the exoplanet were to show signs of life, it could answer the age-old question of whether there are other living beings outside of Earth. Ryan Arcadio/JB

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TOPICS: astronomers, Earth, exoplanets, Hydra constellation, NASA, TESS
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