New ultra-hot exoplanet twice the size of earth discovered; Any evidence of alien life?


When astronomers search for exoplanets, they usually look for those planets, which have just the right amount of temperature to support liquid water on their surface and must have the habitable atmosphere. Such planets are considered as the best options to search for extraterrestrial life. But some exoplanets have the mysterious atmosphere and that is the case with the newly found planet.

The recently discovered planet called Wolf 503b is about twice the size of earth. But, scientists are not sure about the surface of this planet. Researchers are unable to understand whether the exoplanet has a surface like an earth that is hard and rocky or it is just a planet made of gases.

The team of researchers from Canada, US and Germany stated that it would not be easy to travel to Wolf 503b due to its proximity to its star, as this new planet orbits the star closer than Mercury orbits sun, and that makes the planet extremely hot.

The lead author of the study, Merrin Peterson, a graduate student at the Institute for Research on Exoplanets said, "The discovery and confirmation of this new exoplanet were very rapid, thanks to the collaboration that I and my advisor, Björn Benneke, are a part of."

Benneke, the co-author of the study, said in a statement that this mysterious planet is "one of the only planets with a radius near the gap that has a star that is bright enough to be amenable to more detailed study that will better constrain its true nature."

"It provides a key opportunity to better understand the origin of this radius gap as well as the nature of the intriguing populations of 'super-Earths' and 'sub-Neptunes' as a whole," Benneke further added.

Peterson said in a statement that in May, after receiving data from Kepler K2 "we quickly ran a program that allowed us to find as many interesting candidate exoplanets as possible. Wolf 503b was one of them."

During the process, the team came to know that this exoplanet, as well as its star both, are relatively close to earth, as they are situated almost 145 light-years from the blue planet, in the Virgo constellation.

Researchers stated that if engineers complete James Webb Space Telescope, then it will definitely check this newly found planet. This telescope is scheduled to launch in early 2021. There are also plans to build more powerful telescopes so that scientists could easily look at the atmosphere of the plant to find any evidence of hydrogen and water on the surface.

"The brightness of the host star makes Wolf 503b a prime target for prompt radial velocity follow-up, Hubble Space Telescope transit spectroscopy, as well as detailed atmospheric characterization with JWST," the astronomers said.

Until scientists observe the details of the planet, they would not be able to determine what it looks like or the elements it consists. But, as per the estimated temperature, which is approaching 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers are not very hopeful about finding any kind of signs of alien life on the planet.

This article was first published on September 8, 2018
Related topics : Exoplanet Space