Astronomers excited about newly discovered planet [2015/11/26 10:16]

A lot of astronomers are excited about a newly discovered planet.

The exoplanet, called GJ 1132b, is about the size of Earth and is in a solar system roughly 39 light-years from Earth.

A team of scientists reported the finding in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

What is important is that the exoplanet is the closest rocky Earth-sized exoplanet ever discovered. The next closest is about three times farther away.

Scientists point out the importance of GJ 1132b’s size and distance. Astronomer Drake Deming at the University of Maryland, who was not part of the study, said that this planet is “arguably the most important planet ever found outside the solar system.”

The reason is that GJ 1132b is close enough for astronomers to point their telescopes at it and explore any traces of an atmosphere.
Studying the atmospheres of exoplanets for signs of life is important, because it can play a key role in the search for extraterrestrial life beyond our solar system.

But it is an extremely difficult project because most Earth-sized planets are too far away to study in any detail.
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