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Scientists have discovered an exoplanet with a thick atmosphere that could harbor life

Scientists have discovered an exoplanet with a thick atmosphere that could harbor life

This illustration provided by NASA in 2017 shows planet 55 Cancri e, right, orbiting its star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

In a recent investigation published by the magazine natureScientists discovered A Thick atmosphere wrap Giant Earth “55 Cancri E”Its dimensions are twice the size of our planet. Located 41 light-years away in a nearby solar system, this exoplanet is notable not only for its size but also for the extreme temperatures it reaches, which can reach 2,200 degrees Celsius (4,200 degrees Fahrenheit). Magma oceans on its surface.

This discovery is noteworthy, given that 55 Cancri e is one of the few rocky planets outside our planet. Identify a solar system with a large atmospheremainly composed of Carbon dioxide and monoxideAlthough the exact proportions of these gases are still unclear. The presence of this atmosphere indicates the possibility of other rocky planets with similar atmospheric characteristics, but in conditions more suitable for hosting life. “It is likely to be Strongest evidence to date “This planet has an atmosphere,” said Ian Crosfield, an astronomer at the University of Kansas, who was not involved in the study.

The research shed light on how Webb Space Telescope It played a crucial role in separating the light emitted by the planet from the light coming from its star, allowing scientists to learn about the composition of the atmosphere. This process revealed how the planet’s heat is evenly distributed across its surface, a phenomenon usually associated with the presence of an atmosphere. the Gases from magma oceans From 55 Cancri E plays an important role in maintaining the stability of this atmosphere. “We can study this early stage of the planet’s evolution,” said Renyu Hu, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a member of the research team.

A recent study published in the journal Nature represents a milestone in space exploration by confirming the existence of an atmosphere consisting of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide around a nearby exoplanet. (NASA/JPL-CALTECH VIA AP)

Scientists highlight that Very high temperatures And the The proximity of the planet to its star Copernicus, who led to sides always facing light and dark, reduces the chances that 55 Cancri e could support life as we know it. However, the real value of this discovery lies in its contribution to our understanding of atmospheric processes on distant rocky planets and their evolution over time.

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Attention in Super Earth This phenomenon has been increasing, as evidenced by other recent findings, including the discovery in 2022 of two planets just 100 light-years away, orbiting a red dwarf star. One of these planets, known as LP 890-9c, may be habitable. Additionally, in August 2022, NASA scientists identified another super-Earth that they suggest may be a planet “Water World”, potentially capable of sustaining life. It is expected that James Webb Space Telescope Providing more detailed data about this planet in the future. “As quickly as possible, we will reserve time at Webb to observe this strange and wonderful world,” researcher Rene Doyon said, anticipating further studies.

Exploring 55 Cancri e and other similar celestial bodies not only expands our knowledge of the universe, but also gives us clues about how familiar bodies like Earth and Mars began evolving with magma oceans that later cooled. This type of research highlights the importance Advanced technology In space exploration and the search for answers to fundamental questions about the possibility of life on other planets.