Since our species became aware of itself, it has been in awe of the sky, the colors we have seen in it, the lights, and the hundreds of millions of bright spots that encompass it.
As our understanding has advanced, we realized that they were not gods or little light bulbs lit at night, but stars, masses of energy very similar to our sun but millions of light-years away. And just like our sun, each star has a lot of material in its orbit including planets.
The possibility that these planets have the capacity to support life is one of the most important objectives of modern scientists. The idea of finally answering the age-old question of whether we are alone in the universe is a long-lasting fascination that seems to be going nowhere.
That is why in recent years, astronomers have dedicated themselves to developing new telescopes that allow us to shorten the immense distances of the universe and take a look at what is around us in search of sites that have characteristics similar to our planet.
An instrument called MAROON-X was installed on the Gemini telescope in Hawaii and with it, astronomers have been exploring “nearby” planetary systems. Among them is the one governed by the star Gliese 486, a red dwarf that is located 26 light-years from us.
Within the orbit of that star,it was possible to identify a planet that they called Gliese 486 b. But the most important thing about this planet is that it is rocky just like the Earth and it is presumed that it also has active geology.
Gliese 486 b is not in the habitable zone of its star’s orbit. This planet 3 times larger than Earth is too close to its star, which results in a surface temperature of around 800 degrees Fahrenheit, which scientists say would be very unlikely to host life.
However, the discovery of planets similar to ours allows scientists to understand the processes of planet formation throughout the universe and thus advance the search for life beyond Earth.
Gliese 486 b thus becomes the third closest exoplanet, and we hope that with the use of new telescope technology we can continue to discover the most impressive mysteries of the universe.