It seems like scientists have discovered a better human civilisation not so far away from us, so get excited people, or maybe be a little bit afraid.
After 20 years of careful academic observation surrounding one of Earth's nearest neighbouring stars, scientists have a reason to believe that there might be what has been described as a 'Super Earth' just six light years away from our current home planet. Known as the Barnard Star, the red dwarf in question, has been under investigation by astrophysicists in search of 'exoplanets' (planets outside our solar system) at the Institute of Space Studies in Catalonia, who have now proposed that we might have such a planet right on our celestial doorstep – confirming their findings in a paper published in Nature.
In light of their recent discovery, the researchers officially named the planet 'Barnard's Star B', with Ignasi Ribas, the lead scientist of the research team, stating that "after a very careful analysis, we are 99 per cent confident that the planet is there". It has been dubbed a 'Super' Earth because it has an overall mass larger than the Earth itself and is at least 3.2 times the size, with a year equating to 233 days, Motherboard reports.
But what does that exactly mean? Could we be meeting ourselves from a parallel universe sooner than we think? Unfortunately, no… the Independent has also reported that the planet is located beyond what is known as the "snow line", which is basically the point where life ceases to exist. In fact, the surface temperature on Barnard's Star B is speculated at around -170 degrees, so it is unfortunately not the ideal destination for an intergalactic getaway.
However, Christina Rodrígues-Lopez, a co-author of the study, remains hopeful, saying in a recent statement that "this discovery means a boost to continue searching for exoplanets around our closest stellar neighbours, in the hope that eventually we will come upon one that has the right conditions to host life."
Even though it might be scary to think that we might not be alone in the vast vacuum of space, it might also not be much longer until we can be truly sure that we aren’t alone.