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Venus' evil twin or Earth's lost brother? The intriguing case of Gliese 12 b

The discovery of Gliese 12 b, a Venus-like planet just 40 light-years away, offers new opportunities to understand the conditions that support life in the universe. This "evil twin" receives much more radiation from its star compared to Earth, and raises intriguing questions for further studies using advanced telescopes

GLAZE 12b An Earth-like planet or Venus, orbiting the Sun at a distance of 40 light years, the image was prepared by DALEE and is not a scientific image
GLAZE 12b An Earth-like planet or Venus, orbiting the Sun at a distance of 40 light years, the image was prepared by DALEE and is not a scientific image

The discovery of a Venus-like planet orbiting a star in the vicinity of our solar system has raised hopes that astronomers may one day unravel the secret of why life appeared on Earth.

It is difficult to study life in the universe because we only have one example of a planet where life has been confirmed: Earth. It is difficult to say which characteristics of the earth are necessary for the emergence of life, and which of the characteristics are not relevant. Until we find an "Earth twin" in which the conditions for life have also appeared, the best thing astronomers can do is to study "evil twins", planets with initial conditions similar to Earth that have evolved in a very different way, with environments unsuitable for life.

In the solar system, Venus and Mars are two examples of lifeless "evil twins". But with only two examples, there is still a lot of uncertainty about how severe the conditions for life to form might be. Since the 5500s, more than XNUMX planets orbiting stars other than the Sun have been discovered. But most of these planets are hundreds of light-years away from Earth, so it is difficult to study them in detail.

In this study, the team found and characterized a new planet named Gliese 12 b, based on data from NASA's Tess Space Telescope, the MuSCAT2 and MuSCAT3 cameras developed by the Japan Astrological Center and the University of Tokyo, and the Japan National Astronomical Observatory's Sobro Telescope. Gliese 12 b is close to the solar system, it is only 40 light years away in the direction of the Pisces group. Galiza 12 b is therefore an ideal target for study with the Webb Space Telescope and future 30-meter telescopes.

So far, scientists have realized that the orbital cycle of Glyze 12 b, that is, one year on it, is only 12.8 days. The radius of the planet is only 4% smaller than that of the Earth, and the mass is less than 3.9 times the mass of the Earth. Gliese 12 b receives 1.6 times more radiation from its star than Earth receives from the Sun. For comparison, Venus receives 1.9 times more radiation than the Earth.

Based on this data, the team members believe that Gliese 12 b is an "evil twin", more like Venus than Earth. But they cannot rule out the possibility that Gliese 12 b is an "Earth twin" with liquid water on its surface. Further observations will determine whether Gliese 12 b is an "evil twin" or an "Earth twin". Either way, studies of Gliese 12 b will give us a better idea of ​​the prerequisites for the emergence of a life-friendly environment on a planet.

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