Researchers have discovered that a nearby ‘Super-Earth’ planet has the potential for life to develop which is just just six light years away. Also, it is about twice as old as the Sun – about 9 billion years old compared to 4.6 billion years for the Sun.
Barnard b (or GJ 699 b) is a recently discovered Super-Earth planet orbiting Barnard’s Star, making it the second nearest star system to the Earth.
According to the study, the ‘Super Earth’ is believed to be extremely cold, with temperatures is similar to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, at around -150°C (-238°F) and could have a large, hot iron/nickel core and enhanced geothermal activity, which would allow life to flourish.
‘Geothermal heating could support ‘life zones’ under its surface, akin to subsurface lakes found in Antarctica,’ said Villanova University Astrophysicist Edward Guinan at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomy Society (AAS) in Seattle, WA.
He added, “We note that the surface temperature on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is similar to Barnard b but, because of tidal heating, Europa probably has liquid oceans under its icy surface.”
He added, “If water is present, geothermal heating (volcanic plumes, vents etc.) could result in liquid water ‘life zones’ under a possible icy surface,’ the pair wrote in their accompanying paper.This much like Jupiter’s icy moon Europa that is heated by tidal heating rather than from geothermal energy.”
“Barnard’s Star has been on our radar for a long time,” Guinan said.
He stated, “The universe has been producing Earth-size planets far longer than we, or even the Sun itself, have existed.”