It’s not even mandatory to be a scientist to realize that we cannot be alone in the Universe. Imagine a world that hosts creatures very similar to humans, that’s what we would encounter on a so-called “Earth’s twin”. Scientists hope to find such a place for decades, and they just got closer to the highly-ambitious goal.
Axios.com brings the great news that while using NASA’s TESS mission and the Keck Observatory, a team of researchers was able to find a so-called Super-Earth, a rocky planet existing in the early Universe.
10 billion light-years away
The planet in question is dubbed TOI-561b, and it’s located at about 10 billion light-years away from us. This means that the planet was around when the Universe was very young: “only” 3.7 billion years old. While there’s no guarantee that the Super-Earth is still there in the present, the discovery is still notable because older planetary systems have higher chances of harboring forms of life at some point during their existence.
Lauren Weiss from the University of Hawaii declared during a press conference:
Gosh, if we’ve only been around for 5 billion years, imagine what could have happened on a rocky world that’s been around for 10 billion years. I’d sure like to find out.
The TOI-561b exoplanet is about 50% larger than Earth, and it orbits its host star in less than 12 hours. The remote world likely features an ocean of magma on the side that faces its star, which significantly lowers the chances that TOI-561b can support life. But hopefully, humanity will be able to travel to the exoplanet one day in the far future to find out for sure.
The new study has been accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal.