In the realm of astronomy, the quest for a habitable planet such as ours has been considerably significant. Just recently, Australian scientists spotted the exoplanet Wolf 1061c fourteen light-years away from the Earth. It is located in the Ophiucus constellation orbiting a red dwarf “M-type” star known as Wolf 1061. This is the third of three rocky planets orbiting around the said star, similar to that of the Earth and Mars.
Wolf 1061 is located in the constellation Ophiucus some 14 light-years away. That is approximately 126 trillion kilometers from the Earth. Even if you think this is very far, it is the 35th closest star from our planet. It is a red dwarf star which means it is one-half to three-fourths of the mass of our sun. There are three planets that orbit around Wolf 1061. The third planet, Wolf 1061c struck the scientists most because it is said to be located in the “Goldilocks zone.” This is the orbital zone that is neither too hot nor too cold to be considered habitable.
The HARPS spectrograph data paved the way to finding Wolf 1061c The astronomers collected information from the telescope of the European Southern Observatory in Chile for the past ten years. They identified planets differentiating signal changes to determine smaller objects such as planets orbiting around larger objects such as stars. This is called the “doppler wobble method.”
Researchers claim that the exploration of exoplanets or planets located outside of our solar system consists of the overall characterization of the host star. The radius, temperature, and luminosity of the host star commonly determine the properties of the exoplanet. In analyzing the said properties of the Wolf 1061, scientists were able to derive the possible conditions in the Wolf 1061c planet.
Wolf 1061c is said to be more than four times the mass of the Earth. It orbits around its star every eighteen days. Compared to the distance of the Earth from the sun, Wolf 1061c is much closer to its star. However, the Wolf 1061 is much dimmer and cooler than our sun.
All three planets that orbit Wolf 1061 have enough low mass to be presumed as rocky and have a solid surface. However, the third planet, Wolf 1061c is in the Goldilocks zone where it is possible to have liquid water. Liquid water is one of the key components for life to exist. However, some scientists perceive that Wolf 1061c might be at the edge of being too close to the star. As such, the heat emitted by the star might be trapped in the atmosphere of the planet creating a greenhouse effect. With this, the planet might be also too hot be habitable.
The discovery and exploration of the Wolf 1061c can be considered a breakthrough in astronomy. Though alien life is yet to be discovered, a planet that has similarities with the Earth is a fascinating thought. Since the potentially habitable planet is relatively close to the Earth, it is accessible enough for astronomers to perform further research to make conclusive results in the future.