We’ve been studying the cosmos for centuries, always looking up to the stars in search of new planets and new life. It is something that has captured the human imagination since the dawn of man. And now, after so long, astronomers may have found a planet that could foster life.
Admittedly, astronomers have found several different planets throughout the universe that have the potential to harbor life. Proxima Centauri b is one such planet. However, the latest discovery, dubbed Ross 128 b, holds an incredibly high chance to allow for life to exist on the planet. Proxima Centauri b likely does not contain any alien life only because of the solar flares and high solar winds it endures; however, Ross 128 b has a better chance due to the lack of solar flares it is exposed to. Ross’ parent star, Ross 128, is a “quiet” red dwarf star and so it does not give off as many solar flares as other stars do.
While the current technology and telescopes that we use limit us from finding out more in-depth details about the planet, there is hope in the future. A report from ArsTechnica.com states that a brand new, 127-foot wide telescope is being built in Chile. The telescope is a collaboration between 15 different European countries, as well as Brazil and Chile. The project is expected to cost over $450 million and is the most expensive project in ground-based astronomy.
The hope is that once this new telescope is finished (projected to be as early as 2024), astronomers can finally look even deeper into the cosmos than before. This extremely large telescope, dubbed the EELT (European Extremely Large Telescope), should allow us to distinguish features, such as oxygen, on the planet. And if oxygen is found on the planet, then the possibility for life jumps drastically.
As is usual, I’m incredibly excited for whenever a new astronomical discovery such as this is made. I will continue to follow this story closely and update if any new developments