A new study reveals that scientists believe there are 100 planets which have the potential to harbor alien life. This even includes one planet which is found in a star system which is the fourth-closest to our sun. While these 100 new exoplanets are not confirmed at this time to actually contain alien life, 20-years worth of analysis on these planets does show that there is the distinct possibility that alien life may very well still exist on them.
Paul Butler, from the Carnegie Institution of Science, led this new study, which has been published in The Astronomical Journal. Astronomers have so far located 3,400 confirmed exoplanets, with several thousand still still waiting for their own confirmation status.
The data that was collected on these 100 planets which may contain alien life comes from the High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer, or HIRES, which is located at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
The University of California at Santa Cruz’s Steve Vogt, who is the co-author of this new study and also helped to design HIRES, explained that while HIRES may not have been created for the sole purpose of detecting exoplanets, he is nevertheless very pleased that they have been able to contribute to science in this way.
“HIRES was not specifically optimized to do this type of exoplanet detective work, but has turned out to be a workhorse instrument of the field I am very happy to contribute to science that is fundamentally changing how we view ourselves in the universe.”
The way that HIRES has detected these exoplanets which may contain alien life is by using a method which is known as “radical velocity.” This instrument is able to detect small gravitational wobbles which orbiting worlds bring about in their planet stars, according to NBC News.
HIRES uses a quite different method for detecting these planets when compared with NASA’s Kepler space telescope. What Kepler does instead is to look for very small brightness dips which appear when a planet moves across its star’s face, otherwise known as the “transit method.”
— PM Johnson (@pmjohnson003) February 18, 2017
In this new study which has found 100 planets with possible alien life, researchers located 60 planet candidates and 54 potential signals which will need more investigation in the future before they are able to be moved to “candidate” status.
One of the planets which is now considered to be a candidate circles the star called GJ 411, which is placed 8.3. light-years away from the sun. This planet is 3.8 times more massive in size than our Earth and scientists believe that it is most likely too hot to have life. This planet is also quite close to the star and manages to complete one full orbit in just 10 Earth days.
The date set of HIRES is enormous and contains 61,000 measurements of 1,600 stars. In order to extract as much science as possible out of this data, which researchers have called the largest compilation of radial-velocity alien planet-hunting observations, the scientists have chosen to share their research with others who are also studying exoplanets.
Jennifer Burt, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has said that cooperation is key when it comes to seeking out and studying planets which may hold alien life on them.
“The best way to advance the field and further our understanding of what these planets are made out of is to harness the abilities of a variety of precision radial velocity instruments, and deploy them in concert. But that will require some big teams to break from tradition and start leading serious cooperative efforts.”
Do you think with this latest study that we are getting any closer to determining whether other planets hold alien life on them?
[Featured Image by NASA/Getty Images]