Super-Earth Discovers Sign of Extraterrestrial life

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Both planets orbit the red-dwarf star K2-18, which is 111 light years from Earth in the Leo constellation.

Using data collected by the European Southern Observatory, researchers from Canada's University of Toronto and Université de Montréal were studying the mass and density of the little-known planet K2-18b, which was discovered back in 2015. While figuring that out, they also chanced upon the discovery that another exoplanet also orbits the same star.

In the search for extraterrestrial life, scientists conducted new research which suggests that the exoplanet K2-18b could have a Super-Earth neighbor. The planet is also a super-Earth, but likely orbits too close to its parent star to have liquid water on its surface.

Researchers have found that K2-18b could be a scaled-up version of Earth.

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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.

The planet is closer to its star than K2-18b, and probably too hot to be in the habitable zone. In the process, they discovered that the planet also has a massive neighbor.

The telescope's High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (Harps) instrument was used to analyse K2-18b. "Once all the boxes were checked it sunk in that, wow, this actually is a planet", said Ryan Cloutier, who had the target of finding at least one new exoplanet during the course of his Ph.D. James Webb Space Telescope is created to observe some of the most distant events and object in the cosmos in the most exceptional clarity. "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 in the statement. That means that a satellite or manned mission traveling to K2-18b would take over 2.3 million years to get there.

Dr Avi Mandell, another author of the study, said: 'The expected launch of the James Webb Space Telescope and other future space-based observatories will give us the opportunity to follow up with even more powerful instruments and to continue exploring the wonderful array of exoplanets out there'.

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Researcher Professor René Doyon said that there's a lot of demand to use this telescope, so you have to be accurate in picking which exoplanets to look at.

Using a machine-learning approach the researchers were able to determine that K2-18b was either a rocky planet with a bigger gaseous atmosphere than Earth or a water planet with a thick layer of ice on top of it.

Other researchers on the team are affiliated with the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland, France's University of Grenoble, and the University of Porto in Portugal.

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