Possible alien life may be present on Giant Super Earth, researchers say

Scientists, aside from two regular signals that they received every 39 days from the star's rotation and every 33 days from the planet's orbit, discovered a third signal which they received every nine days, which was the first indication that there might be another planet close to K2-18b. In 2015, another research team discovered the planet K2-18b and noted that it lies with the habitable zone.

In the case of K2-18b, astronomers began observing it with the European Southern Observatory's planet-hunting HARPS instrument, which is part of the 3.6-meter telescope in the La Silla Observatory.

In an unprecedented discovery, scientists have just found two rare "super-Earths" right next to one another. While combing through their data, researchers discovered that K2-18b was situated right next to yet another super-earth, a newly discovered exoplanet named K2-18b that scientists believe is also roughly the same mass as Earth.

Orbiting the red-dwarf star of K2-18, both of the planets sit 111 light years away from Earth, within the Leo constellation.

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"Being able to measure the mass and density of K2-18b was tremendous, but to discover a new exoplanet was lucky and equally exciting", Ryan Cloutier, the lead author of the study, said in a statement.

The analysis revealed that K2-18b is either a massive rocky planet with a gaseous atmosphere like the Earth or a planet with mostly water and a thick layer of ice on top of it.

"So if we can detect that wobble, we can infer the presence of a planet, like this super-Earth, and we can actually measure its mass, which is great, because it tells you something about how big the planet is", Cloutier explained.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to give a friendly wave to potentially new pals over on K2-18b, in the hope that they will like us, and not want to death-ray us out of existence. "But with the James Webb Space Telescope we can probe the atmosphere and see whether it has an extensive atmosphere or it's a planet covered in water".

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"It wasn't a eureka moment because we still had to go through a checklist of things to do in order to verify the data", Cloutier said.

JWST is NASA's successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and is now scheduled to be launched in spring 2019.

Engineers inspect the James Webb Space Telescope after cryogenic testing in Houston, November 19, 2017.

"There's a lot of demand to use this telescope, so you have to be meticulous in choosing which exoplanets to look at", said study co-author René Doyon.

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The Canadian-made Near-InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectograph (NIRISS) is specifically created to probe the atmospheres of exoplanets, and Doyon said that K2-18 is at the top of the list.


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