Newly discovered exoplanet GJ 367b inhabitable, may be covered in water or molten iron
New Delhi : The scientists had discovered an exoplanet, which is scorching hot and as dense as pure iron. On Thursday, it was revealed that the planet is about 31 light-years away in the constellation of Vela and is about three-quarters of the size of Earth and half as massive.
The exoplanet takes less than 8 hours to orbit a red dwarf star half the size of the Sun.
"Discovery Alert! An international team of scientists used @ NASA's TESS spacecraft to find a tiny planet hugging a red star. A ''year'' there, one orbit, takes less than 8 hours! It's 31 light-years from Earth, and hot enough to melt metal," the NASA Exoplanets tweeted.
The exoplanet is believed to be inhabitable because of its high temperatures and perhaps a molten lava surface on the side facing its star, the scientists said.
Ever since the first exoplanet was discovered, scientists have started taking keen interest to understand if there could be another inhabitable planet like Earth.
“Gas giants such as Jupiter, as we know it, are not habitable because they have more extreme temperatures, weather, pressures, and a lack of essential building blocks to support life,” said astronomer Kristine Lam of the Institute of Planetary Research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), lead author of the study published in the journal Science.
“Unlike gas giants, small terrestrial worlds like Earth are more temperate and consist of important ingredients, such as liquid water and oxygen, to harbor life forms. Although not all terrestrial exoplanets are habitable, searching for smaller worlds and identifying the type of planets they are can help us understand how planets were formed, what makes a planet habitable and if our solar system is unique,” Lam added.
During the research, the researchers calculated that 86 per cent of GJ 367b is composed of iron, with an interior structure resembling Mercury, which is the closest planet to Sun.
GJ 367b orbits its star once every 7.7 hours, placing it in a category of “ultra-short period” exoplanets that travel around their home stars in less than 24 hours.