According to an announcement made by astronomers a few days ago, two planets orbiting a small star 12 light-years away from us could potentially host life. The star, known as Teegarden, is at least eight billion years old, which makes it twice as old as our sun, which means the planets orbiting it are old, as well.
Astronomers are extremely intrigued by the discovery of these planets, especially since they are relatively close to our own galaxy.
According to Ignasi Ribas, one of the astronomers that made the big announcement, both of the discovered planets are potentially habitable. He added: “We will eventually see if they are actually habitable and, perhaps, even inhabited.”
The Teegarden star shines so weakly that it could not even be spotted until 2003. Bonnard Teegarden, while looking to gather some data on nearby dwarf stars, was the one who first spotted the galaxy. The Teegarden star is relatively small, similar to the TRAPPIST-1 star, which hosts seven potentially habitable planets.
The Two Recently Spotted Exoplanets Are Potentially Habitable
The team of researchers, including Ribas, is currently using the CARMENES instrument to search for planets orbiting 342 stars, The telescope is located at Spain’s Calar Alto Observatory.
The astronomers have been observing Teegarden’s star for more than three years, watching its every move. After some estimations, experts concluded that the two rocky planets weigh around 1.1 times the mass of our home planet. Even more, the exoplanets complete full orbits in a short time of 4.9 Earth days and, respectively, 11.4 days.
Before the team could let others know about the discovery, other phenomena, like starspots and flares that could create the illusion of a planet orbiting the Teegarden sun, had to be ruled out. Since Teegarden is quiet, this was not a difficult challenge.
Ribas stated: “The number of measurements is so high and the star is so well-behaved that there is very little room for an alternative explanation. So, this is, to me, a clear-cut case of planet detection. I would bet both my little fingers that they are there.”