Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – A group of researchers from the European Space Observatory (ESO) claims to have found a rocky planet and has sufficient water supply that is categorized as habitable for humans.
This exoplanet (a planet orbiting a star other than the sun) is 35 light years from Earth. The researchers saw this planet in the constellation Volans (southern sky).
ESO researchers say the exoplanet is at just the right distance from the cool, bright star so water can flow on the surface. Researchers believe the planet lies in the “Goldilocks”, the zone of the solar system where humans can survive.
“We have hints of the existence of a terrestrial planet in the habitable zone of this system,” wrote the project’s lead researcher Olivier Demangeon of the University of Porto in Portugal.
A second unconfirmed planet further from the star, called L 98-59, is also said to be capable of supporting life as we know it. The L 98-59 system is expected to be the first to be seen. These rocky planets like Earth and Venus are close enough to the stars to be warm.
“Planets in the habitable zone may have atmospheres that can protect and support life,” said Olovier Demangeon colleague Maria Osorio of the Center for Atrobiology in Madrid, Spain.
This discovery is an important step in the search for extraterrestrial life in the universe. The findings come from an analysis of data collected by the European Space Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. This tool finds exoplanets such as Earth, Venus, Mercury, and Mars.
However, the detection of life will depend on the team’s ability to study each planet’s atmosphere. Current telescopes are not big enough to accomplish this. The European Space Agency or ARIEL (Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey) will do so by the end of the decade.
Previously, astronomers had discovered nearly 5,000 exoplanets so far. Estimates suggest that the Milky Way may contain as many as 100,000 million exoplanets.