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Space & Astronomy

James Webb observes potentially habitable 'super-Earth' LHS 1140 b

By T.K. Randall
July 10, 2024 · Comment icon 16 comments

An artist's impression of LHS 1140 b compared to the Earth. Image Credit: B. Gougeon / University of Montreal
This relatively nearby world, which is a lot larger than our own, is situated approximately 49 light-years away.
Discovered back in 2017, LHS 1140 b remains of considerable interest to astronomers as it has the potential to be a world with the right conditions needed for life as know it to exist there.

The planet orbits a red dwarf star and is thought to be an ocean world, owing to the fact that its mass seems to be much lower than would be expected for a rocky, terrestrial world of its size.

More recently, for the first time, scientists conducted a full spectroscopic analysis by combining data from various telescopes including the James Webb, Hubble and Spitzer telescopes.
The findings suggested that LHS 1140 b might not only be an ocean world, but that it is also potentially home to a thick atmosphere as well - a key indicator that hints at an Earth-like environment.

"This is the first time we have ever seen a hint of an atmosphere on a habitable zone rocky or ice-rich exoplanet," said University of Michigan astronomer Dr Ryan MacDonald.

"LHS 1140 b is one of the best small exoplanets in the habitable zone capable of supporting a thick atmosphere, and we might just have found evidence of air on this world."

While there is still a long way to go before the presence of liquid water, let alone a habitable atmosphere, can be confirmed on LHS 1140 b, it is certainly looking like a promising candidate.

Source: Mail Online | Comments (16)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Hammerclaw 4 days ago
Comment icon #8 Posted by Piney 3 days ago
It's the complete opposite. Most red dwarfs are active and the goldilocks zone is closer so many of the planets around them are getting hit full on with flares. Which would wipe out life. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by Piney 3 days ago
They wouldn't be billions of years older because the elements for complex life didn't exist until the population 2 stars went boom and population 1 stars were born.  The sun is literally a first generation star with the right metals. 
Comment icon #10 Posted by Antigonos 3 days ago
Which sucks because otherwise their longevity makes them good candidates I should think.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Antigonos 3 days ago
First generation stars are Population 2. 
Comment icon #12 Posted by Piney 3 days ago
On top of the fact they are the most common star.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Piney 3 days ago
Population 3 are first generation. The sun is a first generation population 1.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Antigonos 3 days ago
Ok gotcha. Momentary confusion.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Piney 3 days ago
Sgr.A* The Milky Way's central black hole was a population 3 star. They were huge and short lived and they seeded the universe with heavier elements.
Comment icon #16 Posted by fred_mc 2 days ago
From the article: "Compared to the stars orbited by exoplanets in the TRAPPIST-1 system the star orbited by this exoplanet is relatively calm. This makes it easier to untangle the effects caused by its atmosphere from the random noise of sunspots and solar flares. The researchers say this makes it a unique opportunity to study a planet that could potentially support life."


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