MAY 23, 2024 2:25 PM PDT

Gliese 12 b: A new Earth-like planet with a surface temperature of 107°F

Are there Earth-like exoplanets in the Milky Way Galaxy? This is what a study published today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society hopes to address as a team of international researchers have announced the discovery of Gliese 12 b, which is located just under 40 light-years from Earth and whose size and is comparable to Earth, with a surface temperature approximately twice of Earth. This study holds the potential to help astronomers further narrow the search for a potentially habitable exoplanet that could mimic Earth-like conditions.

"Gliese 12 b represents one of the best targets to study whether Earth-size planets orbiting cool stars can retain their atmospheres, a crucial step to advance our understanding of habitability on planets across our galaxy," said Shishir Dholakia, who is a doctoral student at the Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Southern Queensland and lead author of the study.

Artist’s rendition of Gliese 12 b, which is an Earth-sized exoplanet located approximately 40 light-years away and orbits a star approximately one-quarter the size of our Sun. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (Caltech-IPAC))

For the discovery, Gliese 12 b was first identified by NASA’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) with follow-up observations performed by a combination of space- and ground-based observatories, including CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite), MINERVA-Australis, SPECULOOS (Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars), and Purple Mountain Observatory, and additional TESS observations. In the end, the researchers found Gliese 12 b had an orbital period of approximately 12.7 days, a radius almost exactly that of Earth, and a potential surface temperature of approximately 107°F (42°C).

"It is thought that Earth's and Venus's first atmospheres were stripped away and then replenished by volcanic outgassing and bombardments from residual material in the solar system,” said Larissa Palethorpe, a doctoral student at the University of Edinburgh and University College London and a co-author on the study. "The Earth is habitable, but Venus is not due to its complete loss of water. Because Gliese 12 b is between Earth and Venus in temperature, its atmosphere could teach us a lot about the habitability pathways planets take as they develop."

Going forward, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope could be used to conduct future observations of Gliese 12 b given the latter’s unique, and potentially habitable, planetary characteristics.

What new information will we learn about Gliese 12 b in the coming years and decades? Only time will tell, and this is why we science!

As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!

Sources: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, EurekAlert!

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran who earned both a BSc and MSc from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Laurence is extremely passionate about outer space and science communication, and is the author of "Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey".
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