Two exoplanets have been discovered that are warm, similar to the Earth, may have water and could be good candidates to support life, an expert told Efe Tuesday.
Scientists have been searching for planets close to nearby stars since 2016 using a 3.5-meter telescope.
Images captured at the Calar Alto Observatory in Almeria, southern Spain, and two other Spanish telescopes allowed researchers to analyze, in great detail, the Teegarden star - a cold red dwarf that is only around 12.5 light years away from our solar system.
"Teegarden only has eight percent of our sun's mass," Ignasi Ribas, the co-author of the study told Efe.
"It is much smaller and much less bright than the sun.
"In fact, even though it is very close to the Earth it was not discovered until 2003."
The temperature of the star is around 2,600C (as opposed to the Sun's 5,500C) and because it is ten times smaller, it is 1,500 times weaker and radiates mostly infrared waves.
Once the star was found, scientists used the Doppler technique, also known as the wobble method, which uses radial-velocity measurements of the parent star to detect planets around it.
The Doppler measurements detected very early on at least two signals which have now been identified as planets Teegarden b and Teegarden c.
Teegarden b has a similar mas to Earth and orbits the star every 4.9 days.
The second planet takes 11.4 days to complete its orbit, which is the length of its year.
"In other words, they are much closer to their (parent) star than the Earth is to the Sun," Ribas said.
"Teegarden b, the more internal one, receives 10 percent more light than we do from the Sun, that's why we think it may be too hot and may not have water, but this is just speculation because there are elements of its climate that we don't know and that could mean there could be liquid water," he continued.
Teegarden c hovers in the midst of a habitable zone, which means the temperature on its surface is between 0 and 100C degrees, meaning it could very well have water on its surface.
What scientists are very excited about is that both planets are excellent candidates to support life, alongside Proxima b, which to date was the planet that presented the best conditions for habitability.
Experts believe that between the closest star to our solar system, Proxima Centauri which is four light years away, and Teegarden (the 24th furthest away at 12 light years), there are dozens of stars, some with planets orbiting them, but "apart from Proxima b, none of them present ideal conditions (for life)," Ribas added.
Researchers have not ruled out the possibility of there being more planets orbiting Teegarden but the system would have to be observed in more detail.
"These planets are of great interest in order to search for life in the mid-term," Ribas said.
Without a doubt, for the scientist, the forthcoming decade will be thrilling and key in space exploration and the search for suitable terrestrial exoplanets.
The research led by Göttingen University in Germany was possible thanks to CARMENES, a Hispano-German project. EFE-EPA