“But we still need to know what the atmosphere of Ross 128 b is like. Depending on its composition and the reflectivity of its clouds, the exoplanet may be life friendly with liquid water as the Earth, or sterile like Venus,” co-discoverer Nicola Astudillo-Defru from the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland told to media. The planet was discovered with the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (Harps) instrument at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. At 1.35 times the mass of our planet, Ross 128 b is a bit heftier than Earth and orbits 20 times closer to its star than we orbit the Sun.
Telescope in La Silla
But because the new planet’s parent star is much smaller and dimmer than our yellow sun, it receives only a little more solar radiation than Earth. it is expected to have a surface temperature close to that on our own planet. There’s still uncertainty about whether Ross 128 b is within its star’s habitable zone, but scientists say that with temperatures of between -60 and +20°C, it can be considered temperate. An envelope of greenhouse gases – if exists – can warm the surface and provide sufficient pressure to keep water in the liquid state. The detection of gases such as oxygen could potentially point to biological processes.