HomeScience & TechRare 'Exo-Venus' Discovered with Earth-like Temperature

Rare ‘Exo-Venus’ Discovered with Earth-like Temperature

Astronomers have discovered a rare, Earth-like exoplanet named Gliese 12 b, located just 40 light-years away. This potentially habitable planet, orbiting a cool red dwarf star, has an estimated surface temperature of 42°C (107°F), making it slightly warmer than Earth. The findings, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, offer new insights into how planets close to their stars retain or lose their atmospheres.

Gliese 12 b, comparable in size to Venus, orbits its host star every 12.8 days. The planet’s proximity to its star means it receives 1.6 times more energy than Earth does from the Sun. Understanding its atmospheric conditions is crucial for determining its habitability and could reveal why Earth and Venus evolved differently.

Potential for Atmosphere and Liquid Water

The exoplanet may have an Earth-like atmosphere, a Venus-like greenhouse atmosphere, no atmosphere, or a completely different type. Detecting its atmosphere is vital to ascertain if it can sustain temperatures suitable for liquid water and possibly life. The discovery was made using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), with contributions from international teams led by researchers from the University of Southern Queensland, University of Edinburgh, University College London, and Tokyo.

Importance for Future Studies

Gliese 12 b’s host star, Gliese 12, is significantly smaller and cooler than our Sun. The planet’s equilibrium temperature, assuming no atmosphere, is a key factor in studying its potential habitability. The researchers highlight the planet’s importance for understanding atmospheric retention in Earth-sized planets orbiting cool stars, bridging the gap between Earth and Venus in terms of temperature and atmospheric evolution.

Implications for Red Dwarf Stars

The discovery also raises hopes that Gliese 12 b’s atmosphere may be intact, given its star’s lack of extreme magnetic activity. This contrasts with the TRAPPIST-1 system, where similar planets likely lack atmospheres due to stellar activity. Understanding Gliese 12 b’s atmosphere could provide critical insights into the habitability of planets around red dwarf stars, which are common in our galaxy.

The new paper, “Gliese 12 b, A Temperate Earth-sized Planet at 12 Parsecs Discovered with TESS and CHEOPS,” offers a promising avenue for future investigations using advanced telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope.

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