Australian Astronomers Have Discovered The Closest Potentially Habitable Planet: Wolf 1061c

Australian astronomers have discovered a potentially habitable planet and
it’s the closest one ever discovered, only 14 light years away. Named Wolf 1061c, is located some 126 trillion kilometres from Earth, it may seems quite a long distance but when you consider that our next neighboring planet, Mars, is 249 million km away, that handful of light-years doesn’t appear so bad in the scheme of things. This newly spotted planet is sited in the constellation Ophiucus, and its parent star is the 35th closest star from Earth. The group of scientists behind this discover says it's circling a red dwarf 'M-type' star named Wolf 1061, along with two other planets.
Artist's illustration of planets circling a type M class red dwarf star. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech



All the three planets are assumed to be rocky planets just like Mars, rather than gaseous like Neptune. Lead researcher Duncan Wright, currently an astronomer at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) said “The middle planet, Wolf 1061c, sits within the 'Goldilocks zone' where it might be possible for liquid water - and maybe even life - to exist." One of these three planets circling closest to their parent star would be far too hot for sustaining life, and the extreme one is very likely to be too cold. But the one in the mid of these two, Wolf 1061c, appears to be just right for life... potentially.

Wolf 1061c has a mass around 4.3 times that of Earth, and orbits its parent star every 18 days at a distance of 10 percent Earth’s orbit of the Sun. With its current specs in our Solar System, Wolf 1061c would be far too hot for sustaining life, but the good thing about Wolf 1061 star is that it’s much cooler than our Sun, with external temperatures of nearly 3,300 Kelvin. The surface of our Sun, on the other hand, frequently hits 5,800 Kelvin.

Astronomers will carry on examining the Wolf 1061 trio, picking up on features they can collect from how they transit in front of their star.

One of the astronomers, Rob Wittenmyer, told Strom "The close proximity of the planets around Wolf 1061 means there is a good chance these planets may pass across the face of the star. If they do, then it may be possible to study the atmospheres of these planets in future to see whether they would be conducive to life."


The findings will be published in an upcoming edition of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
This post was written by Umer Abrar. To contact the author of this post, write to mirzavadoodulbaig@gmail.com or add/follow him on facebook :

Australian Astronomers Have Discovered The Closest Potentially Habitable Planet: Wolf 1061c Australian Astronomers Have Discovered The Closest Potentially Habitable Planet: Wolf 1061c Reviewed by Umer Abrar on 12/16/2015 Rating: 5

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