NASA finds habitable planet 31 light-years away

NASA has found the first potential habitable world outside our own solar system located about 31 light-years away.

The super-Earth planet, named GJ 357 d was discovered in early 2019. This was discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a mission designed to comb the heavens for exoplanets, according to the research published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The exoplanet is more massive than our own blue planet and the discovery will provide insight into Earth’s heavyweight planetary cousins.

Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy at Cornell University in the US and a member of the TESS science team said:

“This is exciting, as this is humanity’s first nearby super-Earth that could harbour life — uncovered with help from TESS, our small, mighty mission with a huge reach … With a thick atmosphere, the planet GJ 357 d could maintain liquid water on its surface like Earth, and we could pick out signs of life with telescopes that will soon be online.”

Astronomers from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands and the University of La Laguna, both in Spain, announced the discovery of the GJ 357 system in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The distant solar system has a diminutive M-type dwarf sun, which is  one-third the size of our own sun. It harbours three planets, with one of those in that system’s habitable zone was GJ 357 d.

GJ 357 d

The system’s outermost known sibling planet, GJ 357 d is a super-Earth which could provide Earth-like conditions and orbits the dwarf star every 55.7 days at a distance about one-fifth of Earth’s distance from the sun. It is not yet known if this planet transits its sun.

Source : Various