Most habitable planets may be dominated by oceans, lack dry land: scientists

Here we report observations of LHS 1140b.

It's about 40 percent bigger than our home planet, hence the moniker super-Earth, and it's much more dense, weighing about 6.6 times as much as Earth, giving it three times the gravitational pull.

This super-Earth might prove to be an even more important target for the future characterisation of planets in the habitable zone than Proxima b or TRAPPIST-1, according to the astronomers.

"It's the most exciting exoplanet I've seen in the last ten years", said Jason Dittman on the center's website. They estimate that the planet is five billion years old.

"Right now, we're just making educated guesses about the content of this planet's atmosphere", said Dittmann. Releasing the results of their preliminary research of LHS 1140b in this week's Nature, Dittmann is hopeful at the prospect of finding life on this distant planet, a feat which has yet to be reached by the scientific community.

Their confidence is founded in the unprecedented detail gleaned from the planet, named LHS 1140b, thriving in unusual circumstances about 40 light years away.

Scientists consider the super-Earth's odd behavior interesting.


The LHS 1140b offers a great opportunity to test that proposition.

Science boffins have scoured the deepest parts of space - but are yet to find surface water on any other planet.

Simpson revealed that the four oceans on Earth may be a outcome of the anthropic principle, which is often used in a cosmological context and accounts for how observations of the universe are influenced by the requirement for the formation of sentient life.

LHS 1140b's host star spins slower and emits less radiation, unlike the TRAPPIST-1 star. The steam is thought to have escaped into the atmosphere, where it condensed and fell to the planet as rain. If initial on-Earth investigations indicate there are signs of life on the planet, the next step would naturally be to dispatch a probe.

The TRAPPIST-1 planets are also smaller and one has already been proven not to be rocky through a density measurement. Although it is thirty nine light years away, scientists believe that they will be able to discern whether or not LHS 1140b has an atmosphere and contains life thanks to several new generation high-powered telescopes due to come into service fairly soon.

This rookie, known as LHS 1140b, hails from the constellation Cetus (the sea monster). "We've been delighted to hear about the discovery of LHS by our colleagues from Harvard", he said. Using ESO's HARPS instrument and a range of telescopes around the world, the astronomers located the exoplanet orbiting the dim star - LHS 1140 - within its habitable zone. "Our understanding of the development of life may be far from complete, but it is not so dire that we must adhere to the conventional approximation that all habitable planets have an equal chance of hosting intelligent life", Simpson said. He mentioned that more sources of information could be gathered with the help of the James Webb Space Telescope and the Giant Magellan Telescope, which will be launched in 2018 and commissioned in 2022, respectively.

The red dwarfs are violent in their early lives, bombarding UV radiation and X-rays on planets in close orbit.


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