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Could there be alien life on Barnard b ?


Posted on Sunday, 13 January, 2019 | Comment icon 17 comments

Could this be the view from the surface of Barnard b ? Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser
In a new study, scientists have highlighted the possibility of finding life around the nearest single star to the Sun.
Situated a mere six light years away, Barnard's Star - which is named after American astronomer E. E. Barnard - is home to a recently discovered super-Earth planet known as Barnard b.

Now according to astronomers from Villanova University, this relatively nearby world, despite seeing temperatures of -170 degrees Celsius, could potentially harbor primitive extraterrestrial life forms.

At the recent annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Seattle, Washington, the researchers explained that the planet, which orbits its star every 233 days at roughly the same distance as Mercury orbits the Sun, would need to have a hot iron/nickel core and ongoing geothermal activity in order to support life as we know it.

"Geothermal heating could support 'life zones' under its surface, akin to subsurface lakes found in Antarctica," said study co-author Edward Guinan.

"We note that the surface temperature on Jupiter's icy moon Europa is similar to Barnard b but, because of tidal heating, Europa probably has liquid oceans under its icy surface."

The existence of Barnard b also tells us more about the prevalence of such planets in the galaxy.

"The most significant aspect of the discovery of Barnard's star b is that the two nearest star systems to the Sun are now known to host planets," said co-author Scott Engle.

"This supports previous studies based on Kepler mission data, inferring that planets can be very common throughout the galaxy, even numbering in the tens of billions."

Source: EarthSky.org | Comments (17)

Tags: Barnard, Star

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #8 Posted by bison on 13 January, 2019, 18:21
The Barnard's Star planet is inferred to be quite cold ~ 170 degrees C.  This is comparable to Jovian moons, where subsurface life is considered a reasonable possibility. These moons are warmed internally by tidal flexing, and the resultant friction, due to the gravitational influence of Jupiter.  Barnard' Star b has an unusually eccentric orbit -- 0.32. That's 20 times the eccentricity of Earth's orbit. This could cause tidal flexing, too, giving the interior of  this planet a better chance for life. Barnard's Star has been observed to flare markedly. but on only one occasion. Subsurface life... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by Reignite on 13 January, 2019, 21:25
What a load of crap. Whose realitiy is this? Yours? This is no more than a belief. Your belief that is. That you put your trust in a bunch of selected scientist and stop thinking for yourself, that is fine. But don't force your belief unto me please
Comment icon #10 Posted by Skulduggery on 14 January, 2019, 11:36
There should be a pizza one, for 'pizza'.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Essan on 14 January, 2019, 12:01
It's the real world reality based on actual fact.   Although in terms of how close we came to there being no known technologically advanced species in the universe, a major natural disaster just a few hundred years ago would have meant the total was zero.   And one tomorrow might result in the same .....   Life is common on Earth and likely common in the universe.  But out of all the many tens of millions of species known to have existed since the dawn of time, only one invented the radio.  
Comment icon #12 Posted by bison on 14 January, 2019, 17:59
Most scientists accept the likelihood of intelligent life on a multitude of other worlds. One basis for this belief is the Copernican principle, named for astronomer Nicolas Copernicus, and his work showing that the Earth is not the center of the solar system, as formerly believed. Because of the human tendency to think of ourselves as special, even unique, this kind of thinking has cropped up again and again. Various nations  each anciently  thought themselves at the center of (a flat) Earth, and uniquely favored by the gods.  Earth itself was later thought to be the center of the universe, a... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by Mr Guitar on 15 January, 2019, 2:14
I couldn't care less about microscopic, primitive lifeforms - I want me some real live walkin', talkin', raygun totin' aliens who are able to carry on a conversation and teach us some neat stuff like faster than light travel and where to get replacement dilithium crystals. Or they might just decide we're the microscopic, primitive lifeforms and blow us away or enter us as another ingredient in "How To Serve Man".
Comment icon #14 Posted by bison on 17 January, 2019, 20:13
A physiology evolved in a different solar system would likely be very different from that of Earth organisms. We'd probably cause them severe indigestion, if we didn't poison them first!
Comment icon #15 Posted by EBE Hybrid on 19 January, 2019, 10:52
If it's orbiting it's parent star at roughly the same distance that Mercury orbits the Sun, would it not be flippin' hot! Last time I checked Mercury was the closest planet to the Sun?
Comment icon #16 Posted by Essan on 19 January, 2019, 12:21
No, Barnard's Star is much, much cooler than  the Sun
Comment icon #17 Posted by EBE Hybrid on 20 January, 2019, 14:18
Thanks Sedan, I had no idea! Makes so much more sense now


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