Barnard’s Star nurturing new life forms?

Barnard b known to be the closest planet to our sun only 6 light-years a part. However, its host star is quite dim. It has been thought that new life-forms can be supported by this planet.

Barnard’s Star b is the nearest discovered super planet revolving around the sun. According to the research carried out by Professors at Villanova University, Barnard’s star is only at a distance of 5.95 light-years from sun. This star is also named after Edward Emerson Barnard, an American astronomer who discovered it in 1916. Whereas, the announcement of this star’s planet was made no later than November 2018. On 233rd conference of American Astronomical Society (AAS) held in Seattle, Washington – astronomers from Villanova University overwhelming represented their work and explained that though the temperature of the Barnard’s planet is as low as (-170 degrees Celsius or -254 Fahrenheit), still it has potential to support life forms.

Barnards star contrast size sun
Image Credit: Villanova University

The newly discovered planet, Barnard’s star b, has mass that is three times of our planet Earth. The orbital time period of this planet around the dim red dwarf star known as Barnard’s star is roughly 233 days, of about 60 million kilometers, same as Mercury takes to orbit around sun. further, the star is thought to have low luminosity that is the distance between the star and its host planet is too far and it reaches nearly the snow line. The water molecule freezes and even makes life inhabitable.

To nurture the life-forms, the planet needs to have its own heat source. The astronomers further detailed that the planet must have a large, inner hot iron/nickel core just like Earth or should have geothermal activity to allow life to occur.

Edward Guinan and Scott Engle of Villanova made the declaration of this new plane and source work could easily be found out. Their other colleague Guinan said:

Geothermal heating can easily support the life forms, as seen in the subsurface lakes found in Antarctica. Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, has also geothermal wave mechanism just as Barnard b. Since, Europa has different way of tidal heating, liquid oceans may exist under the icy layers of this moon. probably has liquid oceans under its icy surface.

Barnard Star-b dim and red
Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Guinan and Engle have been carrying out research on Barnard’s Star for past 15 years and meanwhile they have also discovered numerous other stars. They validated the presence of star through high-precision photometry knowns to be light measurements.

Though Earthly telescope Barnard’s Star, dim red dwarf, can be seen vaguely, but its planet cannot be seen. Guinan commented that may be in future this planet could be seen through we more upgraded and bigger telescope. He also commented that we better inventions more precisely the nature of planet such as planet’s atmosphere, surface, and potential habitability could be observed.

Engle also exclaimed that “this discovery holds a significant aspect as now there are two-star systems that are found to host the planets”. This discovery also supports the studies of Kepler mission data, deducing that planets can commonly found throughout the galaxy, probably adding up to tens of billions.

Further Barnard’s Star is twice older than our sun, 4.6 billion years, while the age of this star is around 9 billion years. Thi universe has the capability to produce planets like earth even before our own sun was born.

Sun Closet Neighbors
Image Credit: NASA PhotoJournal

Bottom Line: Studies also represent that exoplanet Barnard b (or GJ 699 b) has potential to support life forms and has its own dim heat source other than the red dwarf star. The source could be inner, hot iron/nickel core – just like Earth and can maintain life by carrying out enhanced geothermal activity.

Source: X-Ray, UV, Optical Irradiances and Age of Barnard’s Star’s New Super Earth Planet — ‘Can Life Find a Way’ on Such a Cold Planet?

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