Super Earth with Possible Aliens is only 111 Light Years Away
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) discovered 2 Exoplanets being referred to as Super-Earths orbiting a Red Dwarf (K2) in the Constellation of Leo. This discovery is significant as K2-18b is in an area referred to as the habitable zone. The other planet K2-18c is a little too close to the red dwarf and will have a very high surface temperature. Similar to Earth and Venus. Earth is in the habitable range where Venus is too close to the sun with a surface temperature close to that of molten lead.
Determining that they are most likely solid and not gas giants give hope of them being able to support life. The team used sophisticated computer modeling to determine its makeup. K2-18b seems to be the only one that will support life as we understand it. K2-18c may well have some biological life similar to the bacteria found in vent holes near the bottom of our oceans.
The ESO is located in Chile. They found the pair of planets with High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher(HARPS). This is a more high tech method that the one used to find Neptune and Pluto at the edge of our solar system. They took a series of pictures and compared them in overlays to determine what was different in the pictures over several years.
After using some machine learning techniques the scientist and engineers were able to determine that the planets are solid with a gaseous atmosphere. They will be able to better determine the surface composition using the James Webb Space Telescope when it is deployed in 2019. Scientists are hopeful that planet k2-18b will have water. Use of the Webb Telescope will be very limited due to the number of astronomers wanting to view different celestial bodies and events.
One estimate is that there are over 4 billion stars in the Milky Way. It is hypothesized that around 15% of these stars may have planets that would capable of supporting life. That is somewhere near 600 million stars in the Milky Way. There are countless more galaxies in the universe. It is possible that there is some type of life on these planets.
As appealing as a trip to an exoplanet may seem k2 is 111 light years away from earth. It would take hundreds of thousands of years to traverse that distance with current technology. To get to the nearest star Alpha Centauri which is 4 light years distance at 20% of the speed of light would take 20 years. A possible technology using a light sail is being explored by a Russian billionaire named Yuri Milner could possibly reach the 20% of light speed. Using the current space shuttle technology it would take 32,000 years to get to Centauri.
To get to K2 would take nearly a million years. Even using Yuri’s space sail wound take over 550 years to get to K2.
Pack your bags. It's gonna be a long time before we can stop and use a restroom.
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