A recently ‘rediscovered’ exoplanet –located around 14 light years from Earth— is believed to have all the necessary characteristics to supports alien life, since the world is located in the habitable zone of its host star.
Scientists have recently ‘found’ an alien world that is very likely capable of hosting life, raising hopes that mankind will find another planet with similar characteristics to Earth.
The best part of this discovery? The alien world is in relative proximity to our own solar system. Wolf 1061c and its star, Wolf 1061 were found by astronomers in 2015 and are located just about 14 light years from Earth.
But what makes this alien world so intriguing and interesting si the fact that researchers have just found out that the world is located within the habitable zone of its star, which raises hopes it is capable of hosting life as we know it.
Scientists have found three planets in the Wolf 1061 System. Wolf 1061b (inner planet) is well inside the inner boundary of the optimistic habitable zone, making it too hot to be habitable; Wolf 1061c (middle planet) is well inside the optimistic habitable zone and just outside the inner boundary of the conservative habitable zone, making it potentially habitable; and Wolf 1061d (outer planet) is outside the outer boundary of the optimistic habitable zone, making it a little too cold for habitability.
NASA defines the ‘Habitable Zone’ as “the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet.”
In other words, the habitable zone –also referred to as the ‘Goldilocks Zone’— is the area in the solar system where it’s not too hot or too cold for life, it’s just right.
If we observe Earth, the warm conditions are just right so our planet can sustain life and have water in a liquid state. Mars on the other hand is too cold, apparently.
To see whether or not Wolf 1061c is a good target for life, astronomers analyzed seven years of luminosity data from the planet’s star and tracked the planet’s orbit discovering what the temperature and surface pressure might be. Their findings secure the notion that it could be capable of hosting life.
However, there are still a lot of enigmas when it comes to Wolf 1061c. First of all, scientists are unsure of the atmospheric conditions on the exoplanet. So far theories propose that it could be similar to what Venus experienced in its early days, where temperatures were quick to evaporate all known traces of liquid water.
Furthermore, scientists state that the creation of water vapor could have triggered a runaway greenhouse effect, increasing temperatures even further. Experts believe that the same that that occurred to Venus, may have happened at Wolf 1061c.
In addition to the above, while researchers are sure that Wolf 1061c is an ideal candidate for life, they are not sure if it currently supports it.
According to reports, to come to this conclusion we’d still need more measurements which could be available from NASA’s James Webb telescope, but to get to those measurements we will have to wait a bit more since the telescope won’t be unveiled until next year.
The third –little setback is the fact that 14 light years from our solar system might sound close, but one single light year is equal to nine trillion kilometers (six trillion miles).
In comparison, it took us a decade to visit Pluto.