Astronomers find habitable Earth-mass planet 11 light years away


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Worlds without end: Astronomers have found an Earth-mass planet 11 light years away, orbiting a quiet red dwarf star in the habitable zone.

Unlike Proxima Centauri, which periodically has large flares which make its Earth-sized planet less hospitable to life, this red dwarf, Ross 128, is more stable.

Many red dwarf stars, including Proxima Centauri, are subject to flares that occasionally bathe their orbiting planets in deadly ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. However, it seems that Ross 128 is a much quieter star, and so its planets may be the closest known comfortable abode for possible life.

Although it is currently 11 light-years from Earth, Ross 128 is moving towards us and is expected to become our nearest stellar neighbour in just 79 000 years — a blink of the eye in cosmic terms. Ross 128 b will by then take the crown from Proxima b and become the closest exoplanet to Earth!

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3 comments

  • Matt in AZ

    I would call it a “habitable-zone Earth-mass planet” in the title, since we have no idea of its actual conditions.

  • ken anthony

    While an exciting story, meanwhile a habitable zone planet is less than one A.U.from us. Perhaps that’s a better place to go first?

  • LocalFluff

    @Matt in AZ
    I challenge your definition there. It might not have cleared its orbit and is thus not a planet! (or “exoplanet”, there van only exist 8 planets, the IAU has decided, because otherwise their collective byte brain will overflow and set some kind of flag bit. And you don’t want that.

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