Wolf's Howl

Earth 2.0?

Blake Haffer, Reporter

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On November 15, an exoplanet was discovered and according to an article on CNN.com, the discovery got astronomers around the world buzzing.

The planet, named Ross 128 b after its host star (Ross 128), is only eleven light years away, which is relatively close in cosmic terms.  Right now, this is the second closest exoplanet Earth planet that has been discovered.  The exoplanet orbits its host star, which is a red dwarf, every 9.9 days.  The CNN article also said that the planet was discovered by using the HARPS planet hunting instrument that is owned by the European Southern Observatory that is based in Chile.

“I think it will be cool to see how many more planets can be discovered using tools like this,” sophomore Hayden Gooch said.

The planet is also very comparable to Earth in quite a few ways.  First off, Ross 128 b is roughly the same size as Earth and is expected to be no bigger than 1.35 times the size of our planet.  Astronomers also say that the newly discovered planet has a similar surface temperature to the one that is common on Earth.  This planet is expected by astronomers to have a rocky exterior which is the type of solid surface where life could emerge.  It’s surface temperature is about 68 degrees F.  Ross 128 b’s orbit around its host star is about 20 times closer to the star than Earth is to the sun which keeps it at a warm due to the fact that Red Dwarf Stars are some of the coolest and faintest stars in the universe.

“It is pretty crazy how similar to our planet this planet is.  It will be interesting to find out if it really can support some type of life,” junior Parker Cooke said.

As previously mentioned, the conditions astronomers expect to be present on Ross 128 b are conditions that could possibly support some form of life according to the CNN article.  The distance from its host star places the planet in a habitable zone and the temperatures that creates would keep water as a liquid on the planet’s surface.  Astronomers still do not know for sure what the planet’s atmosphere is like, but the surface temperatures found are considered temperate.  Also, even though the planet is a lot closer to its host star than Earth is, the weakness of the star causes it to receive a similar amount of solar radiation as Earth does.  This amount of radiation that the planet is exposed to is suitable for life.

“I am very excited to actually find out if Ross 128 b has some sort of life already on it or if it can officially support life,” Gooch said.

There is a lot more to be discovered about the possible “Earth 2.0”, and it could be pretty interesting according to CNN.

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Earth 2.0?