Scientists have discovered a supersized version of Earth that could host life on a distant galaxy. The planet, named K2-18b, has been dubbed a rocky “super earth” that orbits a Sun-like star. And it is positioned in a solar sweetspot — making it possible to host life-giving liquid water. Researchers at the University of Texas and University of Montreal revealed the stunning findings, that could signal a perfect habitat for alien life. K2-18b even has a neighbouring sister planet, the cleverly named K2-18c, but is unlikely to host life because it is slightly closer to its Sun. Lead author Ryan Cloutier said: “Being able to measure the mass and density of K2-18b was tremendous, but to discover a new exoplanet was lucky and equally exciting.” But while the planets may already be teeming with otherworldly creatures, we will probably never know for certain. They orbit a red dwarf star 111 lightyears away — or 625,000,000,000,000,000 miles away — in the Leo constellation. Boffins were able to get the measure of K2-18b using data from the European Southern Observatory gathered with a High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (Harps) instrument. Harps can help determine the mass and radius of a planet to work out its density. They found the planet is mostly rock with a gassy atmosphere, just like earth, but more research is needed to be sure. Mr Cloutier added: “If you can get the mass and radius, you can measure the bulk density of the planet and that can tell you what the bulk of the planet is made of”. “K2-18b is now one of the best targets for atmospheric study, it’s going to the near top of the list.” The research will be published in the journal Astronomy And Astrophysics.
Very cool!! 🙂