Two exoplanets, located in the so-called habitable zone around their star, have been detected in our galactic neighborhood around a star located only 12.5 light-years away from our solar system.
The Teegarden star, an 8 billion-year-old red dwarf discovered in 2003, is one of the smallest known stars. Temperatures on its surface can reach 2700 ° C, which is relatively low for a star.
Graphic representation of the habitable zone around the Teegarden star.
The discovery of two planets around this star is the result of more than three years of observations by an international group of astrophysicists. Resembling the rocky planets of our internal solar system , these exoplanets, named Teegarden b and Teegarden C, would be slightly heavier than the Earth.
“They resemble the rocky planets of our internal solar system,” says Mathias Zechmeister of the Institute of Astrophysics, University of Göttingen.
Teegarden b, the planet closest to the star, is the one with the greatest number of similarities with the Earth, and it would not be impossible for liquid water to be on its surface.
You Should Know…
- On October 6, 1995, the Swiss scientists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz of the Geneva Observatory announced the discovery of 51 Pegasi b, the first exoplanet detected to orbit a solar-type star.
- Since that time, astrophysicists have identified as many as 4003 exoplanets (source: NASA, June 20), and another 3708 are being confirmed.
In order to detect these celestial objects, astrophysicists have used the CARMENES new-generation spectrograph located at the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain.
The scientist Victor Sánchez Béjar of the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics explains that Teegarden b has a 60% chance of having an environment on its surface whose temperatures oscillate between 0 °C and 50 °C, and whose average could approach 28 °C.
Teegarden c, for its part, is further away and the temperature on its surface approaches that of Mars at around -47 °C.
Mr. Zechmeister and his colleagues believe that the two planets could be part of a larger system, so that other stars could be added in the coming years.
Be that as it may, these stars are now among the first 19 known exoplanets to have a potentially liveable environment. And Teegarden b is the one with the closest similarity index of our planet.
This reality delighted its discoverers, who now want to study them better, since if these planets are endowed with atmospheres, it is not excluded that they could also shelter certain forms of life.