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NASA discovers unbelievable planet that's like a 'super-Earth' and can 'harbour life'

NASA discovers unbelievable planet that's like a 'super-Earth' and can 'harbour life'

NASA first discovered the planet back in 2017

NASA has discovered an unbelievable new planet that's said to be like a 'super-Earth' which can 'harbour life'.

While advancements in space technology continue to see us reach extraordinary heights, there is an awful lot we still don't know about it.

I think as humans we have always been fascinated as to whether we are alone or whether there is extraterrestrial life out there somewhere.

While no studies so far have provided definite answers, a recent one may just answer questions that have tormented many a generation.

Using NASA's much talked about James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), an international team of scientists looked into the atmosphere of an exoplanet called LHS 1140 b.

NASA has discovered a unbelievable planet. (MIGUEL J. RODRIGUEZ CARRILLO/AFP via Getty Images)
NASA has discovered a unbelievable planet. (MIGUEL J. RODRIGUEZ CARRILLO/AFP via Getty Images)

The planet is not necessarily new though, as it was first discovered back in 2017, with scientists finding out at the time it to be six times the mass of Earth.

Experts also discovered the planet could have an ocean of liquid water and even a nitrogen-rich atmosphere - something which provides even more similarities to Earth.

Lead author Charles Cadieux, from Université de Montréal, quipped: "Of all currently known temperate exoplanets, LHS 1140 b could well be our best bet to one day indirectly confirm liquid water on the surface of an alien world beyond our solar system.

"This would be a major milestone in the search for potentially habitable exoplanets.”

There is one thing that has stumped scientists over the years and that is why the exoplanet is significantly less massive than an object of its size should be.

So, experts had two conclusions as to why it didn't add up: that either the planet was a 'mini-neptune' made mostly of swirling gas, or even a 'mega-Earth' covered in liquid or frozen water.

An image depicting exoplanet LHS 1140 b. (NASA)
An image depicting exoplanet LHS 1140 b. (NASA)

NASA boffins had a puzzle to solve, so combined data from the JWST and other space telescopes like Hubble and Spitzer for their findings.

And their analysis suggested that LHS 1140 b is much more likely to be a 'water world' or 'snowball' with a rocky core rather than the mini-neptune.

Further investigation has revealed ever more similarities to Earth, including the possibility the planet might have a thick atmosphere just like the one here on Earth.

Professor René Doyon, who supervised the study, said: “The current hint of a nitrogen-rich atmosphere begs for confirmation with more data.

"We need at least one more year of observations to confirm that LHS 1140 b has an atmosphere, and likely two or three more to detect carbon dioxide.”

Featured Image Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images/Nasa

Topics: NASA, Space