Scientists have for the first time detected atmosphere around an Earth-like planet beyond our solar system.
The planet, GJ 1132b, which orbits the dwarf star GJ 1132, is reported to be 39 light years away from Earth. The discovery is a significant step towards discovering life beyond Earth. The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal on 31 March 2017. Key Highlights • The planet is reported to have a radius of about 1.4 times that of the Earth and mass of about 1.6 times that of the Earth. • The researchers initially called the planet a potential Venus twin considering its rocky world with a high surface temperature. • The recent discovery shows that the planet also has a thick atmosphere. Though Venus has a thick atmosphere as well, the atmosphere of the two planets may be made up of different compositions. • While Earth's atmosphere is mostly made up of nitrogen with a large oxygen component, Venus' is a thick veil of carbon dioxide.• According to the researchers, the new planet’s atmosphere is likely to be rich in water vapour or methane.
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While this is not the first instant that the scientists have discovered an atmosphere around a planet, as they have previously detected atmospheres around large Jupiter-like gaseous bodies and on the even larger super-Earth, this is the first time that they have detected it around an exoplanet that is almost close to Earth’s size. Scientists can use a planet’s atmosphere to identify potential traces of life on it or to determine if it is suitable for life, as we have on earth.
Who: Scientists have
Where: Beyond our solar system
What: Detected atmosphere around an Earth-like planet