A bone-crushingly cold super-Earth has been discovered approximately six light years away from our sun, a new study shows.
The study, published in the scientific journal Nature, reveals the planet, known as Barnard’s Star b or GJ 699 b, has a temperature of 238 degrees below zero. It has a mass of at least 3.2 times our Earth and orbits its star every 233 days at a distance where water would be frozen, known as the “snow line.”
“After a very careful analysis, we are over 99 percent confident that the planet is there,” lead author Ignasi Ribas of Spain’s Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia said in a statement.
For comparison purposes, rubber freezes below -98 degrees Fahrenheit (-72 degrees Celsius) and human blood freezes between -2 degrees and -3 degrees Celsius, or about 31 degrees Fahrenheit.
Barnard’s Star is the second-closest red dwarf star to our solar system (after Proxima Centauri), at 30 trillion miles from Earth. The team of researchers combined 20 years worth of data from seven separate instruments to make their conclusion and discover the planet.
It’s unlikely that there is life on this probable planet, given its distance from its star. It likely does not have an atmosphere, given its beyond freezing cold temperatures and any presence of water, according to LiveScience.
Still, because of its characteristics, the researchers believe that the probable planet is an “excellent target for direct imaging using the next generation of instruments such as NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope and possibly the European Space Agency’s Gaia astrometry mission,” according to the statement.
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