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Barnards Star Planet cannot be too cold for life after all

SEATTLE – One of Earth's closest exoplanet neighbors, the planet's orbiting Barnard's Star, can still have a chance to host…

SEATTLE – One of Earth’s closest exoplanet neighbors, the planet’s orbiting Barnard’s Star, can still have a chance to host life despite its free temperatures.

New research suggests that heat from geothermal processes can heat pockets under water the planet’s surface is called Barnard’s Star b, which possibly gives ports for life to evolve. Images captured by NASA’s highly delayed James Webb Space Telescope can help determine if the planet is the right size for the phenomenon to occur, and instruments that come later in the future can identify life signs.

“This is the best imageable planet, the best earth size,” Edward Guinan, a researcher at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, told With the help of 1

5 years of data, Guinan and his colleague Scott Engle, even at Villanova, decided that while the planet is too cold for water water and thus likely for life to exist on the surface, the world can still hold underground oceans, depending on how big it is. is. Such oceans could be formed solely on a rocky world, but if the planet is a gas giant, all bets are shut down. [Barnard’s Star b: What We Know About Nearby ‘Super-Earth’ Planet Candidate]

“If it is a super Earth, something may happen,” says Engle.

The two researchers announced their results here at the American Astronomical Society’s 233rd annual winter meeting.

Located just 6 light years from Earth, Barnard’s Star is the closest single star to the sun; only the Alpha Centauri system’s three stars are closer. The proximity of Barnard’s stars has encouraged many scientists to turn their instruments against it, and in the 1970s astronomers discussed whether the black star had a planet. It was not until November 2018 that scientists announced the discovery of a massive world that revolves around the nearby sun.

Barnard’s Star b is huge for a rocky planet, at least 3.2 times the size of the Earth. Although its circulation is about the same as Mercury, the planet is probably a frozen wilderness thanks to the weak light of the star. (If our sun was replaced by Barnard’s Star, it would only be 100 times brighter than the full moon, and the earth’s surface would quickly freeze.) That knowledge did not deter Guinan and Angels, both of which were part of the team that discovered the planet. At minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 170 degrees Celsius), the planet’s temperature resembles that of Jupiter’s moon Europe. With its subterranean sea, Europe is regarded as one of the most potentially habitable bodies of the solar system.

While Jupiter’s radiation melts Europe’s ice, the two scientists knew that something else would be needed to produce lakes and seas under the ice of Barnard’s Star b. Then the scientists looked at the planet itself.

An artist’s impression of the Super Earth circuit Barnard’s Star.

Credit: M. Kornmesser / ESO

“The super earth can have the ability to have extra geothermal energy that could melt the ice in places, if it had water ice around it,” Guinan said.

You don’t have to travel to Jupiter to see evidence of similar lakes. The Antarctic ice sheet covers hundreds of lakes, many of which are considered melted by the heat radiating from the earth’s core. The largest of these, Vostokjön, is supposed to contain a wide variety of organisms separated from other life for millions of years. Guinan and Angels believe that similar environments could be developed on a rocky Barnard’s Star b.

Rocky is the key figure, because scientists are not exactly exactly how big Barnard’s Star b really is – just that is at least 3.2 times the mass of the earth. It would probably make it a rocky super Earth, but if the planet instead has seven or eight times the Earth’s mass, it would be a smaller version of Neptune. Like the solar system’s own (second) blue world, this type of gas giant would lack a surface for life to develop and would probably not be habitable, the researchers said.

“In that case, the game is over” in

Radar images show the depiction of Lake Vostok, which is hidden deep under Antarctic ice.

Credit: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio / Canadian Space Workshop / RADARSAT International Inc.

James Webb Space Telescope can help solve the mystery of the planet’s nature by directly depicting the world. This type of planetary imaging requires the worlds to be far enough away from their stars to block the starlight. otherwise the glow would drown out the world as a spotlight pulls out the light.

Again, the weak nature of Barnard’s Star comes to salvation. If the planet is a mini-Neptune, Guinan said the Web telescope could easily discover the world. Things are a little trickier for a rocky world, as he said was “borderline”. Yet he and Engle seemed certain that the upcoming telescope could get a glimpse.

Barnard’s Star also benefits from popularity. Its proximity to our solar system means that it has been a goal for planet hunters for decades, and Engle said that this world would be “on Webb’s top list” for many researchers. If Webb sees a dark world, then it is probably a super earth, Guinan said. If the planet is extremely light, then it is probably a mini-Neptune.

“Then I don’t care,” Guinan said.

If life thrives under the icy surface of Barnard’s Star b, future generations of telescopes can one day get a glimpse of the signs of that life. If the planet shows plumes, which Europe has sometimes done, researchers could search for organic material in these fountains. But it would require telescopic technology that does not reach the coming decades.

Follow Nola Taylor Redd on Twitter @NolaTRedd . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and onFacebook. Original article on

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