The universities of Granada (Spain) and Liège (Belgium) have just marked history in the world of astronomy by announcing the possible discovery of a planetary system with possible life.
The discovery was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, where it was explained that signs were found that at least one of the planets that revolve around the star GJ-273 could have favorable conditions for life.
This star, called Luyten by astronomers, is one of the «closest» to our planet, in relative terms of distances in space.
But the study done by scientists from Spain and Belgium suggest that at least one of the two planets discovered around GJ-273 has conditions conducive to the development of life, (at least as we know it on Earth).
The results of this study further increase the surprise of the scientific world at the curious facts of the Universe that are continually being discovered.
Why do they say that there may be life on another planet?
Having found a planetary system with possible life It arose from the study of Luyten’s light emissions and other data collected by modern astronomy systems, which made it possible to identify at least two planets in their orbit and their composition.
«At least one of these planets could harbor water,» explained Spanish researcher Francisco Pozuelos, who is the main author of the article.
Pozuelos worked on the study at the University of Granada as part of a collaborative effort with researchers from the University of Lieja, Belgium.
The presence of water was determined based on the data collected and the computer simulations carried out by the team, but Pozuelos clarified that direct evidence of the presence of this element has yet to be found.
The presence of water is key for life to develop and scientists celebrate when they find it on distant planets, as we saw in 2018 when water was found on planet K2-18b, distant 111 light years from us.
What is the Luyten system?
East planetary system with possible life It is made up of the star GJ-273. It stands out for being one of the closest to us in terms of distance and is also as complex as ours.
GJ-273 or Luyten, whatever you prefer to call it, it is only 12.23 light-years away, which ranks it as the fourth closest system to the Solar System discovered to date.
The other closest systems are Proxima Centauri (4.24 light years away), Ross-128 (10.99 light years away) and GJ 1061, which is located 11.96 light years away from our system.
It is also the third, apart from ours, where they have found at least one planet located in the «habitable zone», that is, where the light from its star is sufficient to allow the presence of water in a liquid state.
Luyten is an M-type dwarf star and has two fully identified planets, named GJ-273b and GJ273c, and other planets not yet confirmed, which will be named GJ-273d and GJ-273e.
It goes without saying that the latest discoveries about the possibility of finding life on another planet make the Luyten system the prime candidate for a future space mission.
Life on Another Planet: Meet GJ-273b
According to the analysis and simulations, the two planets not yet confirmed would have masses equal to or slightly less than Neptune, that is, between 9 to 12 times the Earth’s mass, so they could be classified in the category of «mini-Neptunes».
But the two planets that have already been officially discovered, GJ-273b and GJ-273c, can be described as similar to Earth in chemical and physical composition.
The planet GJ-273c has a size similar to ours, but its brother GJ-273b would qualify in the category of «Super Earth» because of its greater mass.
But it is thanks to GJ-273b that perhaps soon we can ensure that we find another planetary system with possible life.
GJ-273b orbits in the habitable zone of Luyten, where it is neither too cold nor too hot and there may be water in a liquid state.
In addition, it shows tides due to heating, as occurs with the masses of water and the wind on the earth’s surface, which originate from the interaction with the star’s gravity and its heat.
By allowing the presence of water in a liquid state, processes that can potentially give rise to complex organic products and cellular life are favored, as it is accepted that it occurred on Earth.
«All this favors the possible development and maintenance of a biosphere,» said researcher Juan Carlos Suárez, co-author of the article, who pointed out that if find life on another planet it will possibly be in GJ-273b.
Asteroids, precursors of life on another planet like on Earth?
Another reason to think that there may be life on another planet like GJ-273b, is that around Luyten orbit numerous asteroids and solid bodies
According to many studies, these asteroids, especially those made by ice, favor the formation of life by falling on the largest planets and supplying them with large amounts of water and other elements.
Remember that our system has two large areas full of rock, ice and frozen gas asteroids.
The first is located between Mars and Jupiter and is considered to be the remains of a large planet that once occupied this orbit.
The second zone of asteroids near our Sun corresponds to the so-called Kuiper Belt and is located beyond the orbit of Neptune.
To these are added other asteroids that enter from outside the solar system but are tied to the gravity of our star, such as the asteroid 4,000 discovered by the SOHO probe.
It is considered that the acarrying water and other basic elements by these asteroids by colliding with the Earth it favored the development of organic products and life.
Indeed, scientists use intensively as a clue to find another planetary system with possible life the presence or absence of belts of asteroids, meteorites or comets.
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