Life 'possible' on exoplanet Barnard's star b - but it will be primitive

11 January 2019 - 14:27 By Odwa Mjo
Scientists say a recently discovered exoplanet may support primitive life.
Scientists say a recently discovered exoplanet may support primitive life.
Image: HO / EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / AFP

Scientists believe there may be life in the recently discovered super-Earth Barnard's star b.

According to CNN, scientists say primitive life is possible on the Barnard's star b, an exoplanet that is six light years away. Also known as a super-Earth, it is the closest solitary star to the Earth's sun and is more than three times the mass of Earth. 

Barnard's star b is the second-closest known exoplanet to Earth and orbits its host star for 233 days, according to NASA

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) said the exoplanet could have a temperature of 170 degrees below Celsius, making it "inhospitable".

Edward Guinana and Scott Engle, astrophysicists at Villanova University in the US, believe that primitive life could exist on the planet despite it being extremely cold and frozen.

According to NASA Barnard's star b, which was discovered in November 2018, receives only 2% of its energy from its host star compared to the energy Earth receives from the sun. 

The two scientists believe that geothermal activity could make the exoplanet hospitable as the frozen planet may have a hot liquid core of iron and nickel which could support primitive life.

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