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Life can exist on the new planet discovered around Barnard's star

Last year, astronomers announced that they had found a super earth around Barnard's star – one of our closest suns.…

Last year, astronomers announced that they had found a super earth around Barnard’s star – one of our closest suns. The discovery of a planet just six light-years away was enough to excite astronomers and the public. But the researchers who found the planet said they suspected that the icy world couldn’t support life.

But now a group of astronomers says that such pessimism can be premature. On Earth, geothermal valves produce heat and create unique environments where life thrives in places that are otherwise difficult to obey a living – like the free, dark depths of the oceans. The team says that similar processes can be at work in this world, which is officially cataloged as Barnard b.

Barnard’s star is a low-mass red dwarf, meaning it is small, old and only emits a fraction of the energy of our sun puts out. The place itself is about three times the earth’s mass and revolves around the star every 233 days. So, because of its distant orbit around a small star, the planet should be a beautiful frigid place where water would freeze on the surface.

But what happens to the water beneath the surface? On Thursday morning at the American Astronomical Society’s 233 meeting in Seattle, Washington, a team of astronomers resumed reconstruction of the planet’s potential for housing. They said that if the world also has a large iron / nickel core and enough geothermal activity, functions like volcanic pumps and valves can create “living zones” of liquid water under the frozen surface of the world.

In the zone

These life zones, according to study co-author Edward Guinan from Villanova University, may be “related to underground lakes found in Antarctica” here on earth. The closest analogue, he said, is Vostokjön, which sits far below the ice in Antarctica, but does not freeze because it is heated by volcanism. Scientists recently found evidence of life there. Guinan also compared these zones to regions near potential hydrothermal valves on Europe, which probably holds a completely floating sea under an icy shell.

However, Europe is heated by the attraction of Jupiter’s hulking gravity, as well as the gravity of its adjacent moons. At Barnard b, the heat comes from the planet itself. Although the team appreciates Barnard’s star &#821

1; and its planet – to be about twice as large as our solar and solar system, if the planet holds a large, warm iron core, its greater mass can also give it increased and prolonged geothermal activity. However, during the conference, Guinan pointed out that “it is not very well known about the super Earth. Our models are everywhere.” surroundings with radiation that can remove their planets

Cosmic calculations

The team directed Barnard’s star as part of the Villanova Living with a Red Dwarf program, which has been going on for the past 20 years. “We were waiting for a planet to be discovered around Barnard’s star,” Guinan said. The researchers determined the age of the star and the planet with data dating back to 2003. Based on measurements of the star’s brightness over time, they decided that it would rotate about once every 142 days. From there, they calculated their age – about 8.6 billion years, or roughly twice the age of sold – by using a ratio called the ratio of red dwarf activity, linking a star’s rotational speed and activity levels to its age. [19659002] The team also calculated the amount of X-ray and ultraviolet radiation that the star’s planet would get at its distance of 0.4 astronomical units (1 astronomical unit, or AU, equals the Earth’s solar distance) to determine the effects on any atmosphere Barnard b can host. They note that this effect is greatest when the star is young and more active and decreases as the star age. When a M-dwarf like Barnard’s star is young, they said it rotates faster and expands ultraviolet and x-ray lights that are tens of hundred times stronger than when it is older. Such high levels of radiation would likely damage or destroy the atmosphere on planets circling it. On the other hand, the young Barnard’s star would also have been more bright, warming his planet, which was closer to the past, enough for an atmosphere of greenhouse gases, but limited in life, to perhaps maintain a surface temperature that could support liquid water, if just short.

Currently, Barnard b receives only about 2 percent radiation Jordan receives from the sun and is a cold world with a surface temperature of nearly -275 degrees Fahrenheit (-170 degrees Celsius). If there is any water left today, it would be frozen on the surface, with only the sea depths potentially liveable in restricted zones heated by ventilation.

However, there is another possibility: Barnard b can actually be more massive than at present thought. If the mass is really larger, more than seven earth masses, it would have sufficient gravity to hold onto a thick atmosphere of hydrogen and helium, making it not an earthly super Earth, but an ice giant, mini-Neptune instead. An ice giant said Guinan at the press conference “would exclude life”, unless the planet has a Europe-like moon with tidal warming, that’s where life can be found in the system.

Barnard b remains an excellent candidate for future bleeding imaging techniques and the next generation of development tools.

“It lies on the hairy edge of being imageable,” Guinan says, and “beyond the edge of what can currently be depicted.”

Although more information is needed to determine Barnard bs mass and housing potential , the future work can open the door to better understand the super earth and what their environments and inhabitants can be. 19659017] (function (d, s, id) {
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