A new study conducted on the Super-Earth known as Barnard b, or GJ 699, suggests that if conditions are favorable, there is a very good chance that alien life may exist here. As the Inquisitr originally reported, Barnard b, which was only recently discovered after 18 years of research — and verified as a planet in November 2018 in a “breakthrough” discovery — is a startling three times the size of Earth, and is also absolutely freezing, maintaining an average temperature of negative 274 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 134 degrees Celsius).
According to Weather, while planets that are this cold don’t normally stand much chance of hosting alien life, a group of astrophysicists believes that if this Super-Earth contains “large, hot iron/nickel core and enhanced geothermal activity,” primitive life may have the opportunity to form here.
As Villanova University astrophysicist Edward Guinan and co-author of the new study explained, if there is any geothermal heating on Barnard b, life may also exist beneath its cold and icy surface.
“Geothermal heating could support ‘life zones’ under its surface, akin to subsurface lakes found in Antarctica. We note that the surface temperature on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is similar to Barnard b but, because of tidal heating, Europa probably has liquid oceans under its icy surface.”
The star that this Super-Earth orbits is a red dwarf, with one orbit lasting a total of 233 days, which is very close to the amount of time that Mercury takes to orbit our own sun. Excitingly, Villanova University astrophysicist Scott Engle and co-author of the new study has noted that finding Barnard b has demonstrated that “the two nearest star systems to the sun are now known to host planets.”
“This supports previous studies based on Kepler Mission data, inferring that planets can be very common throughout the galaxy, even numbering in the tens of billions.”
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Barnard b is an incredibly old planet at nine billion years of age, which makes it over twice as old as our sun, which Engle says demonstrates that “the universe has been producing Earth-size planets far longer than we, or even the sun itself, have existed.”
While there is still a lot that astronomers don’t understand about this Super-Earth, Guinan believes that new and powerful telescopes — such as the James Webb Space Telescope — will shed more light on the many mysteries of Barnard b
“Such observations will shed light on the nature of the planet’s atmosphere, surface and potential habitability,” Guinan explained.