Ross 128b - A Nearby Earth-Sized World

Ross 128b – A Nearby Earth-Sized World

Ross 128 is what astronomers call a red dwarf star, and around it, the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) instrument at the European Southern Observatory, discovered an Earth-sized planet, just 11 light-years away.

HARPS make its predictions and discoveries by measuring the wobbles that happen in stars when its planets influence their position in the sky, pulling on them.
Red dwarf stars are commonly known for their violent eruptions of radiation, strong enough to sterilize their own planetary system. But looking at the data from the European Southern Observatory, so far Ross 128 seems to be quiet than most red dwarfs.

Ross 128b - A Possibly Earth-Sized World Nearby

Closer to us is Proxima Centauri b, the only confirmed exoplanet closer to the solar system with a planet similar in size with our Earth, but on the contrary of the red dwarf Ross 128, Proxima Centauri is much more active, bathing its planet with lethal radiation leaving it incapable of holding and sustaining evolving life forms.

If Ross 128b is tidally locked to its parent star due to its much closer distance, we are not better off since one of its sides will always be in eternal darkness while the other is constantly bathed in starlight. Despite this, scientists believe the temperature might be around -60 to 20 degrees Celsius.

A lot closer to its parent star than Earth, a year lasts around 10 days. Nothing is known about water, oxygen or even an atmosphere composition. The earlier life of this red dwarf might be at play to the possibility of a temperate planet around it, due to the active behavior of red dwarfs during their earlier million years.

Curious fact: in about 70.000 years, Ross 128b will be the closest exoplanet to the solar system due to the stars orbit movement around the Milky Way galaxy.