"Being able to measure the mass and density of K2-18b was tremendous, but to discover a new exoplanet was lucky and equally exciting", said Ryan Cloutier, a PhD student at the University of Toronto. However, while it also appears to be a super Earth and is closer to both planets' star (red-dwarf K2-18, which is located 111 light years from Earth) - it is likely to be too hot to be in the habitable zone.
Researchers have just discovered a new planet 111 light years away - and in the process they realized a previously discovered planet nearby might be what's known as a "Super Earth".
In a significant breakthrough in man's relentless search for life beyond Earth, a new research claims to have found a planet that could host alien life. As it was found to be located in K2-18's habitable zone, that led scientists to believe that the planet has liquid water on its surface, which is one of the essential conditions for life that we have today.
The latest study, by scientists at the University of Texas, Scarborough, and the University of Montreal, Canada, was conducted out using the data from the European Southern Observatory.
Astronomers took a second look at an exoplanet and discovered it probably is a super-Earth. A recently discovered planet named Super Earth unveiling that it could hold numerous critical components of alien life.
Although K2-18b was actually discovered back in 2015, it is only now that researchers have been able to identify whether it was in fact a larger version or Earth or an inhabitable gassy planet like Neptune. Now the researchers have exhausted the data set collected by the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS). "You have to ensure the signal isn't just noise, and you need to do a careful analysis to verify it, but seeing that initial signal was a good indication there was another planet", Cloutier said. HARPS is created to measure radial velocities of stars, which are influenced by the presence of orbiting planets.
Harps can help determine the mass and radius of a planet to work out its density. "But with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) we can probe the atmosphere and see whether it has an extensive atmosphere or it's a planet covered in water". Last month, another research team announced that the Earth-mass Ross 128b, which orbits a red dwarf star 11 light-years from Earth, is perhaps the most likely candidate for hosting alien life.
"With the current data, we can not distinguish between those two possibilities", Cloutier said.
Engineers inspect the James Webb Space Telescope after cryogenic testing in Houston, November 19, 2017. When we finally decide to make the move, a planet called K2-18b might be our destination.
"When we first threw the data on the table we were trying to figure out what it was".