Thanks to the technological advancements, scientists are able to identify potential exoplanets that could be supporting alien life. The list keeps on growing. However, one of the Earth’s nearest exoplanet neighbors, Barnard’s Star b has the potential to be able to support life.
Doesn’t the idea that the human would be able to live on some planer other than Earth, always seemed like something befitting only to science fiction movies or TV shows? Despite that, the technology that we currently have at our disposal and the speed at which it is progressing; is pushing us closer to colonizing Mars and the planets beyond. This is bringing us closer to the answer to the ever-lingering question; are we alone in this vast universe?
Barnard’s Star b is the name given to the planet orbiting Barnard’s Star. The latest research into the planet has revealed that the planet’s geothermal processes are creating sufficient enough heat to warm pockets of water that exist underneath the planet’s surface.
Such a phenomenon can actually provide Barnard’s Star b with the factors that are considered crucial for the evolution of life on it. The research has been carried out by Edward Guinan and Scott Engle of Villanova University in Pennsylvania. The duo had 15 years of data to use and believe that while the planet might still be too cold for liquid water to exist; subsurface oceans might very well exist on Barnard’s Star b.
Barnard’s Star b is only six light years from our solar system and is one of nearest single starts to our sun. It was discovered back in the ‘70s, but it was in November 2018 that researchers carried out studies on it. The Barnard’s Star b is 3.2 times the size of Earth and orbits similarly to Mercury. It has a temperature of -170 degree Celsius, and the planet resembles Jupiter’s Europa. This might beg the question; why such excitement for this planet?
While yes, majority of the Barnard’s Star b would probably be a frozen wasteland. Nonetheless, planets of this size – super earth – possess the ability of ‘extra geothermal activity.’ This energy can melt some area of the icy wasteland. The same phenomenon occurs in Antarctica.
Barnard’s Star b is a high-priority study for the researchers because there isn’t much that is known about the planet and most of the ideas about it are a hypothesis at best.