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There’s an Earth-like Planet With an Atmosphere Just 39 Light-years Away

Artem Tashkinov quotes a report from Washington Post: There are a lot of good reasons to be captivated by the exoplanet GJ 1132b. Located in the constellation Vela, it’s a mere 39 light-years from Earth — just a hop, skip and a jump in galactic terms. It’s similar to Earth in terms of size and mass, and it dances in a close-in orbit around its star, a dimly burning red dwarf. And, astronomers recently discovered, it has an atmosphere. The finding, published in the Astronomical Journal, is the first detection of an atmosphere around a terrestrial “Earth-like” planet orbiting a red dwarf star — and it suggests there could be millions more. Although the researchers call the planet “Earth-like,” the term is only applicable in its broadest sense. GJ 1132b is so close to its sun that it more likely resembles Venus than Earth. Astronomers estimate its average temperature to be about 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and that’s without taking into account the potential greenhouse effect of its atmosphere. It is also probably tidally locked, meaning that gravity keeps one side of the planet constantly facing the star, while the other is cast in permanent shadow. GJ 1132b would not make a cozy home for life — at least, not life as we know it.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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