There’s a super-Earth orbiting just outside our solar system, right in what astronomers call the “Goldilocks Zone.” The Goldilocks Zone refers to the areas in the galaxy where water can exist, and this super-Earth, which is really called Wolf 1061c, may be just right for us.
Considering our own Earth is in pretty rough shape (and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get much better), searching for super-Earths and other planets that can serve as permanent vacation destinations may be in our best interest.
What’s On Wolf 1061c?
“The Wolf 1061 system is important because it is so close and that gives other opportunities to do follow-up studies to see if it does indeed have life,” says San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane.
NASA has actually developed some tools that can help determine whether a planet can support life. One of the most notable: the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite, or TESS, that they’re launching this year. They’re also working on the James Webb Space Telescope, which the space agency will launch next year; the telescope will show scientists whether a planet has the “chemical fingerprint” necessary to support life.
Wolf 1061c appears to be around right distance from its main star, which is a dim M-dwarf (unlike our own yellow dwarf), could have water on it right now… or it could have nothing but vapor because its star is burning too hot and too close.
Where is This Super-Earth?
Wolf 1061c is about 14 light years from Earth, so it’s still pretty far.
In layman’s terms, it’s approximately 82,300,755,2240,571 miles (and uphill, in the snow, both ways). Obviously, getting there will be the biggest problem if we figure out it’s capable of sustaining life—but that’s another issue for another day. Maybe Elon Musk’s SpaceX program can figure it out.
What Do You Think?
Should we start figuring out how to travel 14 light years and begin packing our bags? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the research NASA and other agencies are doing to find habitable planets. Would you move to one? Share your ideas on my Facebook page or on Twitter.