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Why human will not be able to move to the Earth’s twin planet, even if it exists

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Almost every star you see in the night sky serves as the center of the planetary system, and there are about 100 billion stars in our galaxy. But are there worlds like Earth?

Just a couple of days after launching in May 2009, it took the Kepler space telescope to discover its first potentially inhabited planet in the sun-like star Kepler-22. Another 2.5 years were spent confirming the status of the found exoplanet. Finally, on December 5, 2011, the first exoplanet was officially announced, the orbit of which is in the habitable zone of the parent star. Unfortunately, despite all the similarities, Kepler-22 b turned out to be an ocean planet rather than a rocky world like Earth.

The Kepler telescope is able to determine planets only by the transit method, when the planet passes through the star’s disk, slightly changing its brightness for observers. Therefore, the vast majority of exoplanets discovered with its help revolve in orbits around small stars – red dwarfs. Their habitat zones are much closer, and the period of revolution of the planets around them does not exceed several days, which greatly simplifies the search.

According to scientists, for every planet whose transit through the disk of the parent star we can observe, from 10 to 100 of them are located at a different angle. And we are only talking about red dwarf planets. Although in the Milky Way, most of the stars are red dwarfs.

Despite the fact that our solar system can be called rare for the Milky Way, we must understand that we are talking about tens of billions of similar systems. It is difficult to imagine that only one turned out to be a habitable planet.

In August 2019, the Astronomical Journal published the results of a study that gives the most accurate estimate of the presence in our galaxy of Earth-like planets in the orbits of sun-like stars. As part of this study, an interesting method has been developed to estimate the number of such planets. The results are simply amazing: 

Planets similar in size to the Earth, with a period of revolution around their star from 237 to 500 days, should occur in about every fourth system formed by a star like the Sun.

Thus, we get at least two billion planets in the Milky Way, which should be similar to the Earth in most respects. Does this mean that we have two billion potentially inhabited worlds?

If we talk not so much about intelligent life as about biological life as a whole, we know that it is enough to originate, and it can adapt to almost any conditions. An excellent confirmation of this is extremophiles, various organisms that can survive in various extreme conditions, from unbearable heat and cold to exposure to chemicals poisonous to people and even outer space (for example, tardigrades).

But can we find a double planet of the Earth, which will be able to move if necessary? This is where the chances begin to tend to zero. Today we can confidently say that life was emerging on Earth at a time when it was literally like hell, and we would definitely not be able to exist in those conditions.

Life itself has made the Earth what it is now. And that is why, if we find a planet as similar to ours as possible, it will mean that it has formed over billions of years under the influence of biological life on it, and since we are not part of this biosphere, we will have to adapt to it.

This may not be any easier than, for example, colonizing Mars, because the history of the formation of another biosphere will be extremely different from ours. Even if the biochemistry of the creatures on this planet is as similar to ours as possible, it will be different.

The “native” virus drove us home for two months – can you imagine what the virus will do to us from another planet?

It is just right to recall the “War of the Worlds” by Herbert Wells.

Even if we discover the existence of billions of inhabited worlds, this does not mean that you can pack your bags, setting off in search of a new beginning on another planet. We will remain chained to the Earth and will continue to be a part of it. Earth is us. So our main task should be to preserve it for our own sake.

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Space

ESPRESSO spectrograph confirms the existence of an earth-like planet near Proxima Centauri

The surface of Proxima b through the eyes of the artist ESO / M. Kornmesser

The ESPRESSO spectrograph confirmed the existence of the earth-like exoplanet Proxima b in the star closest to the Sun. Additional observations made by the tool made it possible to clarify its mass, as well as register a second signal, which theoretically can be explained by the presence of another planet. Accepted for publication at Astronomy & Astrophysics, the preprint is available at arXiv.org.

In 2016, astronomers reported the discovery of the planet at the red dwarf Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Earth, located about 4.2 light-years from Earth. The celestial body revolves around the star with a period of 11.2 days and is in the habitable zone – this means that the conditions on its surface allow the existence of liquid water. 

The discovery of Proxima b was one of the most important milestones in exoplanetary astronomy in recent years, but the limited accuracy of the available measurements of radial velocity and the complexity of the simulation required confirmation of the existence of an earth-like planet.

An international group of astronomers used the new-generation spectrograph ESPRESSO, which is part of the VLT complex, to measure the radial velocity of a star with an accuracy of 30 centimeters per second. The data obtained were three times more accurate than the data of the HARPS spectrograph, an instrument of the same type, but of the previous generation, with the help of which the discovery was made. Combining ESPRESSO observations with past measurements showed that the mass of Proxima b is not less than 1.17 earth masses, which is less than the previous estimate of 1.27 earth masses.

In addition, scientists recorded an additional signal repeating with a period of 5.5 days, which so far they have not been able to explain. Hypothetically, it can come from the second planet: if the assumption is true, then its minimum mass is less than a third of the earth, and it is located at a distance of 0.03 astronomical units from Proxima Centauri (one astronomical unit is equal to the average distance from the Earth to the Sun).

In the past, researchers suspected the existence of another planet in the system – this time the super-earth, on which the year lasts about five years. It is five and a half times more massive than the Earth and may have rings similar to the rings of Saturn, but this discovery has not yet been confirmed.

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It’s time to worry. Planets switched to retrograde motion

© NASA / Tunc Tezel

In May, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter become retrograde – they change the direction of motion in the celestial sphere. Previously, it was considered a bad omen. In fact, in the solar system there is only one real retrograde – Venus. But the discovery of retrograde exoplanets was a complete surprise.

Copernicus explained everything

Even in ancient times, people noticed that planets moving in the heavens sometimes behave strangely, loop. Most of the year they follow from west to east (if they are farther from the Sun than the Earth) and suddenly turn around, back down. The moment when this happens is called standing.In 1514, Nicolaus Copernicus proved that the Earth is not the center of the universe, but together with other planets revolves around the Sun. 

Each celestial body has its own orbit, and the retrograde movement that is visible to us is the result of their superposition. For example, Mars approaches the Earth every two years as closely as possible and, overtaking it, draws an s-shaped loop in the sky.

© NASA / Tunc Tezel

The path of Mars in the celestial sphere in the period from July 2005 to February 2006. It goes from west to east and at the moment of approaching the Earth makes a loop. For a couple of months his movement seems retrograde to us.

Venus and Uranus versus all

All planets in relation to the Earth for a short time move backward, but this is only an appearance. Real retrogrades do not physically rotate like the rest. In the solar system, it is only Venus. If we were above the north pole of Venus, we would see that it rotates clockwise around its axis. Earth and other planets are against.It is believed that planets form together with a star from one protoplanetary disk. In theory, their orbits should lie in the same plane, and the directions of rotation in the orbit and around the axis should coincide. Why Venus is not like this is not yet clear. 

Although scientists note its strong similarity with the Earth – these planets are even called twins. One of the explanations is that the processes occurring in the bowels and atmosphere have slowed the rotation of Venus so much that it stopped at some point, and then began to spin in another direction.

The distant ice giant Uranus also looks like a retrograde. It lies on its side relative to the plane of its orbit, and pecks down the north pole, which makes Uranus seem to rotate clockwise. But if you put it normally, it will become normal. Scientists believe that billions of years ago, Uranus collided with a large cosmic body and turned over in space. Another hypothesis is that in the past the planet had a massive system of rings that caused resonance, rocked it and deployed.

General rules apply to planetary moons. For example, the Earth rotates counterclockwise, and so does the Moon around the Earth. But one of the 13 moons of Neptune – Triton – is “against the coat.” So, scientists conclude, Triton did not belong to Neptune, was an independent small body, until Neptune captured it from the Kuiper belt. By the way, Pluto, similar in composition to Triton, is also retrograde. In part, this contributed to its transfer to the category of dwarf planets.

© Illustration by RIA Novosti. NASA / JPLRetrograde motion of Triton. This is the only major satellite in the solar system that moves in orbit against the course of its planet.

Anomalies of hot jupiters

This is what our system is completely devoid of – planets that would move in orbits against the rotation of the Sun. For a long time, astronomers believed that this should be everywhere. But in 2009, they discovered the first exoplanet with a retrograde orbit at the star WASP-17 in the constellation Scorpio.WASP-17 b is the largest and least dense exoplanet known. Such gas giants are called hot jupiters.

Its retrograde intrigues scientists. Smadar Naoz from the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Astrophysics at Northwestern University ( USA ) proposed a possible mechanism: the mutual influence of giant planets during migration closer to a star or a brown dwarf. But its implementation requires the coincidence of too many conditions, and this is unlikely. Nevertheless, the astrophysicist put forward a bold hypothesis that such retrograde jupiters are not uncommon – a quarter among those observed. However, the existence of the hot Jupiters themselves is still waiting for its explanation.

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A space object that changes the concept of the Universe is discovered: An unthinkable ancient galaxy

Photo: NRAO / AUI / NSF / S. Dagnello

Scientists at the Institute for Astronomy of the Max Planck Society in the UK announced the discovery of the oldest massive galaxy DLA0817g, which arose just 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang. It has a disk, which can change astronomers’ ideas about the mechanisms of galaxy formation. An article by astronomers is published in the journal Nature.

Researchers discovered the galaxy using the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) radio telescope complex. This ancient object was named Wolf Disc – in honor of the astronomer Arthur Wolf. It has become the farthest spinning-disk galaxy of all detected so far, and its cosmological redshift is 4.26. 

The light from it flew 12.2 billion years, but due to the expansion of the Universe, the galaxy is currently at a distance of 24.4 billion light years. The rotation occurs at a speed of 272 kilometers per second, which is comparable to the rotation speed of the Milky Way.

According to modern models, massive galaxies are formed from the mergers of smaller mass galaxies and clusters of hot gas. These collisions prevent the formation of disks characteristic of the Universe of this age. 

Therefore, the existence of the Wolf Disc will force astronomers to reconsider the mechanisms of the appearance of such space objects. DLA0817g probably accumulated cold gas, but the question of how he managed to maintain a stable disk with such a large mass remains open.

Scientists also found that the star formation rate in the Wolf Disk is ten times higher than the star formation rate in the Milky Way. According to astronomers, he was one of the most productive galaxies in the early Universe.

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