A planet with water and methane has been discovered
Scientists have identified a planet, dubbed GJ 1132b, in the milky way galaxy which is a promising candidate to find life after the discovery of water and methane in its atmosphere.
On Earth, life can be found in the majority of places that have water.
This is why scientists are looking for planets that have traces of water as it massively boosts the chances of discovering alien activity.
GJ 1132b, which is 39 light years from Earth, putting it out of reach of human exploration, is in its host star’s Goldilocks zone, a region surrounding a star which is neither too hot nor too cold to sustain life.
The planet was orbiting a red dwarf star
The star that GJ 1132b, which is 50 per cent bigger in diameter than Earth, orbiting is a M-Class Red Dwarf star – one of the more smaller, cooler star types and also the most common in the Milky Way galaxy.
Now, in a study that is under review for The Astrophysics Journal, scientists at the European Southern Observatory in Chile – a 16-nation strong intergovernmental astronomy agency – say that they have found traces of water and methane in the atmosphere of the exoplanet.
The planet is 39 lightyears from Earth
Lead author astrophysicist John Southworth told Scientific American: “We have shown that an Earth-mass planet is capable of sustaining a thick atmosphere.
“This is one step towards investigating whether a planet could host life.”
While the detection of water is a massive boost, the methane discovery is also significant.
Strangest Alien Planets
Mon, January 9, 2017
Discover the most unusual planets in the universe.
1 of 6
Epsilon Eridani b orbits an orange Sun-like star only 10.5 light years away from Earth
The chances of finding alien life have been boosted
On Earth, methane is produced by microbes, known as methanogens, which are anaerobes meaning that they do not need oxygen and instead rely on hydrogen, which implies that even if there is not oxygen, there could still be life.
Study contributor Julien de Wit added: “Detecting the atmosphere of Earth-sized planets around M-dwarfs is an essential step in the search for habitable exoplanets.
“The concern, however, is that they may not always be able to sustain an atmosphere because of the potential history of strong activity of their star.
“Finding one with an atmosphere would provide us with hope.”