A newly discovered planet could potentially host human life, according to the team that found it.
LP 890-9b is 100 light-years away and a little bigger than Earth, and circles its star extremely closely – completing an orbit in just 2.7 of our days.
But it’s the next planet out, LP 890-9c – which has scientists excited. It too is a bit bigger than Earth, and also hugs its parent star closely, orbiting in 8.5 days.
Though it sounds like both would be extremely hot, the star is the second-coolest found with exoplanets to date. As a result, LP 890-9c sits in the ‘Goldilocks zone’, like Earth, where conditions are right for life as we know it.
“Although this planet orbits very close to its star, at a distance about 10 times shorter than that of Mercury around our Sun, the amount of stellar irradiation it receives is still low, and could allow the presence of liquid water on the planet’s surface, provided it has a sufficient atmosphere,” said Francisco J Pozuelos of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia.
It was found with the found with the Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars telescopes (SPECULOOS), which specialises in finding exoplanets around ultra-cool stars (presumably they mean the temperature, and not how many f***s it gives).
LP 890-9 – the star – is 6.5 times smaller than the Sun, and at its surface is only about half as hot.
“This explains why LP 890-9c, despite being much closer to its star than the Earth is to the Sun, could still have conditions that are suitable for life.”
LP 890-9c gets about 90% the energy we get from our Sun.
Closer analysis will be needed to see if it has water.
Check out the full paper in journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.