Scientists may have finally discovered a super-Earth like exoplanet just six light years away from us after trying to prove its existence for decades.
While we are aware that there is effectively an infinite amount of planets and stars beyond our own atmosphere, it is still a difficult concept to get our heads around. Plus, despite how much there is out there to find, we have currently discovered very little. We still continue to discover more about the planets in our own solar system, let alone everything else.
The one thing scientists are dying to discover is proof that we are not alone in the universe. Many of us may want to leave that stone unturned, but for the most part, we want to know, right? It seems unlikely that there is nothing or no one else out there. In fact, it's almost arrogant to assume that Earth is the only planet in the entire universe that can support intelligent life.
What we have known for a while is that there is a star, other than the sun, not too far away from Earth. It is called Barnard's Star. Barnard's Star is six light years away and is much smaller and older than our own sun. It is in its red dwarf stage so does not glow nearly as brightly and is just a sixth the size. What scientists have been trying to prove for decades is that there is an Earth-type planet orbiting Barnard's Star.
Ignasi Ribas and his team at Spain’s Institut de Ciències de l’Espai are now 99% certain that planet exists, according to National Geographic. They have been monitoring Barnard's Star and have confirmed a periodic jiggle. The jiggle signifies that a nearby planet's gravity is acting on the star, and it seems to occur every 233 days. Other scientists are not convinced and believe the jiggle could be caused by starspots or active regions.
Speculation on what the planet's surface and climate might be like are not promising. It is predicted that the temperature on the theoretical exoplanet will be around -270 degrees, so not able to support life as we know it. So while the potential discovery is an exciting one, even though the planet would share many similarities with Earth, there's very little chance a few of us could jump ship and start new lives there in the future.