Scientists Discover 14-Billion-Year-Old ‘Super-Earth’
A star that’s almost as old as the universe was recently discovered by astronomers. Named TOI-561b, the exoplanet is located 280.5 light-years away in the constellation and is approximately 14 billion years old.
While the star is called a “super-Earth” due to it being twice the size of ours, the chances of aliens living on TOI-561b is low due to the planet’s high temperature. Caused by the planet’s close proximity to its star, the planet requires less than half a day to orbit its star. Unless the aliens are able to withstand 3,140 degrees Fahrenheit on the exoplanet, the search for aliens continues.
Despite the planet being roughly three times the mass of Earth, the team of scientists at the University of California, Riverside explained that the density of the planet is about the same as Earth due to the planet’s old age. The reason behind this strange observation is because not as many heavy elements were available when the planet first formed.
“TOI-561b is one of the oldest rocky planets yet discovered,” said University of Hawaii postdoctoral fellow and team lead Lauren Weiss, in a statement by UC Riverside. “Its existence shows that the universe has been forming rocky planets almost since its inception 14 billion years ago.”
Scientists are currently trying to learn more about the relationship between the mass and radius of the planets they find to get more insight about the interior structure of planets.
“Information about a planet’s interior gives us a sense of whether the surface of the planet is habitable by life as we know it,” said Stephen Kane, UC Riverside planetary astrophysicist and team member.
“Though this particular planet is unlikely to be inhabited today, it may be a harbinger of a many rocky worlds yet to be discovered around our galaxy’s oldest stars.”