If a new study is to be believed Earth-size exoplanet Ross 128 b has all the conditions necessary to support life. Ross 128 b was discovered by a team of scientists using the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) at the La Silla Observatory in Chile in 2017. The exoplanet lies just 11 light-years from Earth.
A team of scientists led by Diogo Souto of Brazil’s Observatório Nacional used the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE), a spectroscopic instrument installed on a telescope in New Mexico, to study Ross 128b’s parent star, known as Ross 128.
They studied the levels of carbon, oxygen, aluminum, magnesium, potassium, calcium, titanium, and iron in the star. They used the measurements to determine that Ross 128 b likely has a rocky surface. It has a minimum mass of just 1.35 times that of Earth.
Lead author Diogo Souto, of the Observatório Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said “Although Ross 128b is not Earth’s twin, and there is still much we don’t know about its potential geologic activity, we were able to strengthen the argument that it’s a temperate planet that could potentially have liquid water on its surface.”
The data related to the host star’s composition hold vital clues about the exoplanet. It is because the stars and their orbiting planets are formed from the same massive cloud of raw materials.
Johanna Teske, the study co-author from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., said that the host star’s chemistry can influence the contents of the disk, as well as the resulting planet’s mineralogy and interior structure. Like for instance, the amount of iron, silicon, and magnesium in a planet determines the mass ratio of its internal core and mantle layers.
According to the research team, the exoplanet appears to circle in the habitable zone of its host star. It has been found that Ross 128 b has a temperate climate despite being 20 times closer to its star. The exoplanet probably has an “equilibrium temperature” of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees C).
The study results have been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.