Science in the News . . .

Science in the News

New Earth sized planet discovered

Astronomers have found an Earth-sized planet with mild temperatures that's also relatively close to our Solar System.

The properties of this newly discovered planet - called Ross 128 b - make it a target in the search for life elsewhere in the cosmos.

At just 11 light-years away, it's the second closest exoplanet of its kind to Earth. The closest one, known as Proxima b, looks to be less hospitable for life. The new world was discovered by a team using the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Artists impression of the new planet Ross 128b

planet 1 


Where should we look for alien life?

Ross 128 b orbits 20 times closer to its star than the Earth orbits the Sun. But because its parent star - a red dwarf - is much smaller and dimmer than our yellow sun, it receives only a little more solar radiation than our own planet.

Consequently, it is expected to have a surface temperature close to that of the earth.

Astronomers often talk about the "habitable zone" around a star - it's the range of distances where temperatures allow water (essential for life as we know it) to remain liquid on the surface of a planet.

Where the habitable zone lies depends on the star itself: red dwarfs are dimmer and therefore cooler than the Sun, so their habitable zones are shifted closer in than the equivalent zone in our Solar System.

A new giant telescope that should help us find more planets                          

planet 2

A space telescope, launched in 2019, will help us see even more

planet 3