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2017-11-15. Nearby Earth-sized world may be the best candidate yet in the search for alien life.

posted Nov 16, 2017, 11:02 AM by Alan Gould
By Loren Grush, The Verge. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8. Excerpt: ...Meet Ross 128 b, a newly discovered planet found orbiting around a small, faint star known as a red dwarf. The world, which is about one-and-a-half times the mass of Earth, may be in the star’s habitable zone, too. (That’s the spot where temperatures are just right, possibly allowing liquid water to pool on a planet’s surface.) Most exciting of all is that this planet is situated just 11 light-years away. That makes Ross 128 b the second closest potentially habitable exoplanet to Earth we know about after Proxima b, a rocky world that orbits around the nearest star to our Solar System, Proxima Centauri. However, Proxima Centauri isn’t a very “life-friendly” star. Also a red dwarf, ...it frequently burps out intense, high-energy solar flares. ...But Ross 128 b’s star doesn’t seem to flare much at all. ...Ross 128 b is very close to its sun, in an orbit that takes just 10 Earth days to complete. That puts the planet about 20 times closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun. But this star is also 280 times less luminous than our Sun, so Ross 128 b only receives about 40 percent more light than Earth does. That means the planet may have a surface temperature similar to Earth. ...a new giant telescope is being built in Chile — aptly named the Extremely Large Telescope, or ELT — which could use to peer into this planet’s atmosphere. ...the ELT may be powerful enough to directly image Earth-sized exoplanets and figure out what their atmospheres are made of... and find the critical gases associated with life — water vapor, oxygen, and methane — then scientists will have a better idea of whether life is present.... https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/15/16655236/new-planet-discovery-ross-128-b-red-dwarf