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Researchers find super-Earth in the habitable zone

Researchers find super-Earth in the habitable zone

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The exoplanet TOI-715 b is a “super-Earth.” It is likely habitable and not far from Earth.

BIRMINGHAM — Our galactic neighborhood may hold another treasure: A recently discovered “super-Earth” called TOI-715 b could hold the key to new insights about exoplanets. What's special: TOI-715 b is located at a distance from a star that researchers have declared to be habitable zone.

A team of scientists led by Georgina Drensfield from the University of Birmingham published their findings about TOI-715 b in the journal in January 2024. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The discovery of the exoplanet was confirmed through international collaboration between institutions including Gemini-South, Las Cumbres Observatory, the ExTrA telescopes, the SPECULOOS network, and the TRAPPIST South telescope.

This illustration shows what TOI-715 b, a super-Earth planet located in the habitable zone around its star, might look like to a nearby observer. © NASA/JPL, Caltech

TOI-715 b: Researchers are excited about the possibility of studying Earth-like worlds in more detail

The “super-Earth” called TOI-715 b orbits a red dwarf star just 137 light-years from Earth. TOI-715 b is about one and a half times the size of Earth, and lies within what is known as the “conservative” habitable zone around its red dwarf star. This area is marked According to NASA The ideal distance that would allow a planet to have liquid water on its surface, an essential element for the existence of life as we know it.

TOI-715 b may have appeared at the right time because its parent star, a red dwarf, is smaller and cooler than our Sun. Red dwarfs are considered promising candidates for the search for habitable planets, especially small rocky worlds.

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Satellite image of Earth in space
Planet Earth: unique in the universe? © Imago Pictures

The challenge facing astronomers now is to write a new chapter in our understanding of exoplanets. Modern space telescopes, particularly NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, play a crucial role in this. Studying atmospheres could provide clues to the possibility of life, help us better understand the diversity of planets outside our solar system, or even create additional habitats for humanity. (Syrian Pound)