Science

Searching for alien life: Astronomers observe Earth-like extrasolar planet K2-3d

Searching for alien life: Astronomers observe Earth-like extrasolar planet K2-3d

Kepler discovered the planet based on the star's slight dimming as the planet passed in front, from the telescope's perspective - a process of discovery called the transit method. The next generation of large telescopes, such as Okayama 188-cm Reflector Telescope and the latest observational instrument MuSCAT used in this observation, are able to investigate the composition of the planet's atmosphere.

Super-Earth K2-3d sits just 150 million light years away from Earth and is one of the most likely planets we know of to host alien life.

During the Kepler mission about 20 potentially habitable exoplanets that also have transiting orbits were discovered. This makes K2-3d a special object for the scientists to observe, because of its close proximity and brighter appearance from a telescope placed on Earth.

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The next generation of telescopes like TMT may play a significant role in helping the scientists search the planet's atmosphere for molecules related to life, such as oxygen. This has also greatly improved the forecast accuracy for future transit times. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope observed two more transits, further increasing what researchers knew about the planet's orbit.

Planet K2-3d is almost 1.5 times the size of Earth and takes 45 days to complete one revolution of its star which is located almost 150 light-years away from Earth.

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K2-3d is an extrasolar planet, meaning it lies outside of our solar system.

A potentially Earth-like planet circles a bright star 150 light-years away, casting a shadow tracked from space - and now from Earth, too.

Despite its closeness to Earth, K2-3d is small enough that the dip in brightness of its star is still extremely faint, only a 0.07 percent change. This alignment enables researchers to probe the atmospheric composition of these planets by precise measurement of the amount of blocked starlight at different wavelengths.

According to Daily Galaxy, a team of scientists from the University of Tokyo, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and the Astrobiology Center are now reviewing the transit of the alien planet.

Now, the mysterious planet's upcoming eclipse of the red dwarf star it orbits could finally reveal whether or not K2-3d is hiding extraterrestrial lifeforms. Now it is believed that the newly discovered planet may harbor alien or extraterrestrial life.

A team of scientists based at the Okayama Astrophysical Observatory in Japan has now made it possible to view the Super-Earth K2-3d in greater detail than ever before. Gray marks show the values calculated in previous research and black marks represent the values re-calculated in this research. This research succeeded in correcting the predictions for the 2018 transit times by more than an hour.

"This means that the planet is probably located at the inner edge of or well within the habitable zone around K2-3".

K2-3d has a warm, Earth-like climate.