While searching for habitable planets outside our galaxy, astronomers have found an exoplanet in the goldilocks zone that can hold life. Located at just 14 light years away, it is the closest planet discovered in the goldilocks zone. In addition, the exoplanet is four times the size of the Earth and is revolving around a dwarf star named Wolf 1061.
Goldilocks zone is a range that is neither too far nor too close from the star, where water can exist in the liquid state. Water becomes ice below 0 degree celsius while it turns into water vapours above 100 degree celsius. Liquid water is necessary for the survival of life forms and water can exist in the liquid state only if the planet is located in the goldilocks zone.
Lead study author Duncan Wright from the University of New South Wales, Australia said that it is the closest ever exoplanet located in goldilocks zone that has been discovered yet and chances are very high that it might boast life. In addition, finding more number of such planets will increase the possibilities of finding some alien life one day.
In the study, the discovery of two more planets in the goldilocks zone was mentioned. Other two planets 1.4 and 5.2 times the mass of our Earth. However, these two planets are on the border of goldilocks zone and possibility of liquid water is relatively less.
All the three planets completed on revolution around the star Wolf 10621 in 5,18 and 67 days respectively. According to astronomers, the middle planet that is nearly four times the size of earth has very high chances of supporting life.
For the study, researchers used data from the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6 metre telescope in Chile. The study authors invented a new technique that is more precise and provides better analysis of data.
The study holds great significance as most of the planets in goldilocks zone are located several thousand light-years away where it is nearly impossible for humans to reach. However, this newly discovered planet is far nearer when compared to other previous discoveries.
The findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.