New findings from a team of European astronomers suggest the existence of habitable planets, with the potential to protect and sustain life, outside the solar system.
The discoveries are consistent with a team of scientists from different European centers, who used in their work the VLT (Very Large Telescope) telescope owned by the European Southern Observatory in the Chilean Atacama Desert, the results were published today in the journal Astronomy. and astrophysics.
Scientists from the Center for Astrobiology (a joint center of the Supreme Council for Scientific Research and the National Institute of Aerospace Technology) and the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, as well as researchers from the universities of Oporto (Portugal), Genoa (Italy) and the Turin Astronomical Observatory participated in the research.
Their work, the European Southern Observatory (ESO, for its acronym in English), reported new data on planets around a “nearby” star (called L 98-59) and evidence that among these planets there are some similar to those in the inner region of the Solar System .
Among these results, three stand out: a planet that would have half the mass of Venus and would therefore be the smallest planet ever measured; An ocean world and a possible planet in a “habitable” zone, because it is at a distance from the star where life is possible.
“A planet in that habitable zone might have an atmosphere that could protect and preserve life,” said Maria Rosa Zapatero Osorio, an astronomer at the Madrid Astrobiology Center (CAB-CSIC) and one of the study’s lead authors.
The European Southern Observatory – Europe’s leading intergovernmental astronomical organization – has highlighted that the results obtained now represent a very important step in the search for life on Earth-sized planets outside the solar system.
Detecting possible signs of past or present life – what in astronomy are called “biosignatures” – on an exoplanet depends on the ability to study its atmosphere, but current telescopes are not large enough to achieve the necessary accuracy and obtain information from planets very far away.
Some of the planets These scientists studied the orbit of that star (L 98-59) at a distance of “only” 35 light years. It is rocky – like the Earth or like Venus-; And they’re close enough to it to be hot.
Thanks to the VLT telescope, researchers have verified that at least three of these planets could have water in their interior or atmosphere. That two of them – closest to the star – would likely be dry, although they could have small amounts of water, and that a third planet’s mass could be 30 percent water, making it an “ocean world”.
The ESO team also discovered two other, previously unseen, hidden planets in this planetary system, including one that lies at a distance from the star that would allow liquid water to exist on the surface.
In 2019, astronomers have already discovered, from a NASA satellite tracking exoplanets, three of the planets in this star’s system (L 98-59).
But to further survey space, specifically this planetary system, astronomers are focusing on the next James Webb Space Telescope that NASA is building and the Very Large Telescope (ELT) that the European Southern Observatory is building in Atacama (Chile), despite his observations. It won’t start predictably until 2027.
“This system announces what’s to come,” This was pointed out by Olivier Demangon, a researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the University of Porto (Portugal).
“We as a society have been chasing terrestrial planets since the birth of astronomy, and now, finally, we are closer than ever to discovering a terrestrial planet, in the habitable zone of its star, whose atmosphere we can study,” the researcher said. In a note issued by ESO. EFE
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