At­mos­phere Dis­cov­ered on Earth-like Ex­o­planet

Science Illustrated - - SCIENCE UPDATE -

For the first time, astronomers have strong ev­i­dence of an Earth-like planet with an at­mos­phere. GJ 1132b is only 1.4 times larger than Earth and lies 39 light years away in the con­stel­la­tion Vela, which can be ob­served from the Southern Hemi­sphere.

Us­ing a tele­scope in Chile, sci­en­tists have mea­sured how the planet blocks out the light, as it passes in front of its red dwarf star. The ob­ser­va­tions in­di­cate that GJ 1132b has a thick at­mos­phere of wa­ter, meth­ane, or both.

The find means that plan­ets or­bit­ing dwarf stars can have dense at­mos­pheres, and they are im­por­tant for sci­en­tists search­ing for life in space, but with a sur­face tem­per­a­ture of 300+ de­grees, GJ 1132b does prob­a­bly not in­clude life.

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