Alien life detected on newly discovered planet ‘exactly like Earth’

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ALIENS: Could the new world, Ross 128b, harbour life? (Image: GETTY/SWNS)
The newly discovered world, named Ross 128b, was found orbiting a red dwarf sun 11 light years away from Earth.

Astronomers working with the European Southern Observatory’s High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) at the La Silla Observatory in Chile are very excited about the discovery.

The Earth-sized world is believed to have a surface temperature close to Earth.

DISCOVERY: The alien planet may be able to hold life (Image: GETTY)
Lead author Dr Xavier Bonfils, of University Grenoble in France, said the planet orbiting a red dwarf star is the “closest known comfortable abode for possible life”.

Ross 128b orbits 20 times closer than the Earth orbits the Sun but has a similar temperature to our planet.

Its temperature is estimated to lie between -60C and 20C, thanks to the cool and faint nature of its small red dwarf host star – which has just over half the surface temperature of the Sun.

The scientists involved in the discovery consider Ross 128b to be likely to hold life with liquid water expected to be on its surface.

The next step is to detect whether oxygen is present in the planet’s atmosphere.

European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is set to search for this on this planet and other ones orbiting the red dwarf sun.

Dr Bonfils added: “New facilities at ESO will first play a critical role in building the census of Earth-mass planets amenable to characterisation.

“In particular, NIRPS, the infrared arm of HARPS, will boost our efficiency in observing red dwarfs, which emit most of their radiation in the infrared.

“And then, the ELT will provide the opportunity to observe and characterise a large fraction of these planets.”

The findings are due to be published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Study co-author Dr Nicola Astudillo-Defru, of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, said ths discovery was huge.

She added: “This discovery is based on more than a decade of HARPS intensive monitoring together with state-of-the-art data reduction and analysis techniques.”

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