A new study has found that an Earth-like planet orbiting an M dwarf, the most common type of star in the universe, may have no atmosphere at all and therefore unlikely to shelter living beings. This discovery could significantly reduce the search for extraterrestrial life.
The atmosphereless planet, named GJ 1252b, orbits its star twice in a single day on Earth. The planet is slightly larger than Earth and is much closer to its star than Earth is to the sun, making it intensely hot and inhospitable.
For the discovery, astronomers, led by Ian Crossfield at the University of Kansas, measured the planet’s infrared radiation as its light was obscured during a secondary eclipse, which occurs when a planet passes behind a star. and that light from the planet, as well as light reflected from its star, is blocked.
The radiation revealed the scorching daytime temperatures of GJ 1252b, estimated at 2,242 degrees Fahrenheit – that’s hot enough to melt gold, silver and copper on the planet. The heat, coupled with a supposedly low surface pressure, led the team to believe the planet had no atmosphere. Even with a huge amount of carbon dioxide, which traps heat, the researchers concluded that GJ 1252b would still not be able to hold an atmosphere.
“The planet could have 700 times more carbon than Earth, and it still wouldn’t have an atmosphere. It would initially build up, then shrink and erode,” said UC Riverside astrophysicist Stephen Kane. (UCR) and co-student. -author, said in a statement.
Michelle Hill, a UC Riverside astrophysicist and co-author of the study, said: “It’s possible that the state of this planet is a bad sign for planets even further away from this type of star. C This is something we will learn from the James Webb Space Telescope, which will observe planets like these.”
The study, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, also included scientists from UC Riverside as well as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, the University of Maryland, the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, McGill University, University of New Mexico and University of Montreal.