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New Earth-Sized Planet May Be Habitable, Although Half Is In Eternal Darkness

This distant world is one of only a dozen Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone around its star.

Astronomers have announced the discovery of a new rare Earth-sized exoplanet. Wolf 1069 b orbits its star in the habitable zone, where water can exist as liquid, vapor, and ice. Of the 5,000 confirmed exoplanets, it’s thought only around 60 might be rocky like Earth and in the habitable zone, but Earth-sized ones or smaller make up just one-fifth of that. Located just 31 light-years from Earth, Wolf 1069 b is the sixth-closest exoplanet that could be an Earth-analog.

The concept of an Earth-analog is an interesting one. Without knowing the exact requirements for life to emerge, the best guess usually boils down to recreating the environment of our own planet. If it happened here it could happen somewhere else as well, so astronomers look for Earth twins. Wolf 1069 b is not exactly a twin but it is close enough, making it an excellent candidate to search for life.

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