Astronomers Continue the Search for Habitable Planets

There are many planets in the universe, but there aren’t many that can sustain life. Recently, scientists and astronomers have started looking for and finding planets that are potentially habitable.

When astronomers search for planets, they can’t just use the average telescope to find them. Instead, astronomers take a much more complicated approach to find a them. Many agree that the most reliable way is to analyze the light coming from a parent star and check for changes in wavelength around it, which would indicate that a planet is likely there. Astronomers suggest that this method has been the most successful and useful way to find planets orbiting distant and nearby parent stars thus far.

One might imagine that planets would be found orbiting stars, like the Sun. But actually, most nearby Earth-like planets have been found orbiting dwarf stars. A dwarf star is the product of a red giant star that never exploded. There are three different color stages in a dwarf star’s life: first red, then brown, and finally white. In general, dwarf stars are much dimmer than normal stars because they are practically dead stars. Even though dwarf stars are dimmer and almost dead, planets still orbit them.

One of the planets that exists in our universe that scientists recognize as possibly habitable is Gliese 832c. Located around 16 light years away from earth, what attracts special attention to this planet is its similarities to Earth. Due to its large size, Gliese 832c belongs to a category known as “Super Earths.”

Another planet scientists have their eyes on in terms of being potentially habitable is Wolf 1016c. This planet is located 13.8 light years away, which makes it the second closest planet to Earth, right behind Proxima b, that may be habitable. Wolf 1016c is similar to Earth because of its rocky core and atmosphere, both of which make the planet capable of sustaining life.

Astronomers aren’t having much luck finding planets and, even less, finding habitable ones. But with new technological advancements, they are hoping to extend our knowledge beyond the stars and the unknown.