Newly Discovered Exoplanet May Be Our Best Shot at Observing the Atmosphere of an Alien World

Newly Discovered Exoplanet May Be Our Best Shot at Observing the Atmosphere of an Alien World
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An exoplanet located at just 26 light-years away appears like one of the best discovered for looking at alien worlds.

The exoplanet is known as Gliese 486b, and it’s mostly rocky. Astronomers believe that it may be similar to Venus because it is rocky, hot, and possible with an atmosphere (though it’s considerably thinner than that of Venus).

The exoplanet meets all the criteria set by astronomers when they search for exoplanetary atmospheres to test next-gen telescopes.

Not only is it close, but it passes between Earth and its star, a cool red dwarf that makes its atmosphere backlit.

It’s also right for the optimal point of spectroscopy to study the atmospheric composition.

Juan Carlos Morales, an astrophysicist from the Institute for Space Studies of Catalonia, said:

“From the very first moment, we realized that this planet is a jewel: orbiting a nearby bright star and passing in front of it from our viewpoint here on Earth […]We have put our best efforts into precisely determining its properties and are getting ready for further characterization. This planet may become a stepping stone to understand the structure and evolution of exoplanet atmospheres.”

Astronomers identified thousands of exoplanets since the first exoplanet was discovered in the 1990s.

What we know so far is only a partial result due to technological limitations, but even so, scientists learned a lot regarding the numerous planets out there. Data like sizes, masses, densities, and orbits are crucial as a base for future studies.

Currently, exoplanets can be discovered with the help of two methods: Doppler spectroscopy and transit photometry.


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