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Alien life could be found on a rocky planet 11 light years away, a new study which analysed the chemical composition of its host star for the first time suggests.
An exoplanet called Ross 128 b, which could be the closest ever located to Earth that can host life, hit the headlines after it was discovered last November.
Elements - Star - Quantities - Researchers - Makeup
Understanding which elements are present in a star and in what quantities can help researchers work out the makeup of the exoplanets that orbit them.
This can help them predict how similar the planets are to the Earth and, therefore, how likely they are to have liquid water and other precursor chemicals to life.
Experts - Star - Ross - Planet - Determination
Experts measured light coming from the star, Ross 128, and how it interacted with the planet to make their determination.
Researchers from Brazil's National Observatory used the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s Apogee spectroscopic instrument at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico to make the finding.
Team - Star - Light - Carbon - Oxygen
The team measured the star’s near-infrared light to work out how abundant carbon, oxygen, magnesium, aluminium, potassium, calcium, titanium, and iron are in the star system.
When stars are young, they are surrounded by a disk of rotating gas and dust from which rocky planets can form.
Star - Chemistry - Contents - Disk - Planet
The star’s chemistry can influence the contents of the disk, as well as the resulting planet’s mineral content and interior structure.
For example, the amount of magnesium, iron, and silicon in a planet will control the mass ratio of its internal core and mantle layers.
Team - Ross - Iron - Levels - Sun
The team determined that Ross 128 has iron levels similar to our sun.
Although they were not able to measure its abundance of silicon, the ratio of iron to magnesium in the star suggests that the core of its planet, Ross 128 b, should be larger than Earth’s.
'Until - Chemical - Abundances - Kind
'Until recently, it was difficult to obtain detailed chemical abundances for this kind...
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