Discovery of two potentially habitable planets


An international team of scientists led by a Belgian astrophysicist has discovered two "super-Earths" more than 100 light years from our planet.

NASA had discovered a first planet 30% larger than ours in a solar system around 100 light years away. But the researchers from the University of Liège have taken their research further than that conducted by the American programme dedicated to the search for exoplanets orbiting nearby stars.

With the help of the telescopes fitted with highly sensitive cameras of the SPECULOOS consortium (Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars) placed in the European Southern Observatory in Paranal, Chile, and the Teide Observatory in Tenerife, they were able to study this type of star with much greater precision than their NASA colleagues. 

The team of astrophysicists led by Laetitia Delrez was able to determine with near certainty that this planet is indeed located in a region of space with conditions favourable to the appearance of life as we know it on Earth.

Moreover, in this same solar system, they identified a second, slightly larger, planet that the Belgian researchers have named SPECULOOS-2c. This planet would also be at an ideal distance from its sun so that water remained in a liquid state and thus allowed the development of life.

It is extremely rare to discover potentially habitable terrestrial planets. In 2016, other Belgian astrophysicists had already achieved this feat that deserved wide international acclaim with the discovery of Trappist-1.