Nearby Star May Be Supporting Life

Teegarden's Star and its two planets our Solar System in the background

Teegarden's Star and its two planets our Solar System in the background

As the 24th nearest star system to our own and the nearest fourth with potentially habitable planets, Teegardeen is an excellent candidate for future research, and its potential to harbour life has left us quite excited.

The planets orbit a neighboring star, Teegarden, just 12.5 light years away in the Aries constellation.

The lead author of the discovery, Mathias Zechmeister, who works as an astrophysicist at the University of Gottingen, says that the two exoplanets resemble the inner planets from our Solar System, they are more massive than Earth, and the position is in the habitable zone, which means that water exists in liquid form. (A light-year is the distance that light travels in a year, or roughly 6 trillion miles or 10 trillion kilometers.) The two planets look an bad lot like Earth and our neighboring worlds, the researchers said.

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What's more, they might be habitable.

If a planet is too far from a star it is too cold and water is frozen. In general, the planetary systems around stars are detected by using the transit method, but because Teegarden, the way wasn't possible.

This graphic shows the top 19 potentially habitable planets as of June 2019, sorted by their distance from Earth. The star is rather tiny compared to our own Sun, with a mass less than 10 percent of our home star. In the case of Teegarden's habitable zone, its exoplanets need to orbit very close to the star as it's so cool (it has a surface temperature of about 4,900 degrees Fahrenheit or 2,700 degrees Celsius).

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The results were obtained as part of the CARMENES search for exoplanets; CARMENES stands for "Calar Alto high-Resolution search for M dwarfs with Exoearths with Near-infrared and optical Échelle Spectrographs". The project's aim is to seek out worlds orbiting within the habitable zones of small red dwarf stars.

After three years of close observation, watching for any "wobbles" produced by orbiting objects, more than 200 measurements indicate the existence of two new planets, now denominated as Teegarden b and Teegarden c. The exoplanet completes its orbit in 11.4 Earth days. Thus, their orbits would be quicker.

A discovery is making the astronomers think that they founded two planets that are like Earth. That's because from the vantage point of Teegarden's star, Earth orbits its sun at just the right angle to transit across the face of our star, allowing any astronomers "out there" to spot us as we pass by.

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