Point a high-powered telescope at the constellation Cetus, the sea monster, and it is just possible to make out a dim red dwarf star shining in the tail.用于高倍率望远镜仔细观察鲸鱼座(Ceuts,取名为海怪),也不能只得看见星座尾部有一颗明亮的红矮星在闪烁。Although it might seem unspectacular, orbiting around that star is a rocky planet that could hold the answer to whether we are alone in the universe.虽然有可能看上去不醒目,但这颗红矮星周围有一颗岩石行星绕行其旋转,这颗行星或许可以问宇宙中否还有其他生命不存在这一问题。Scientists say the planet is a ‘Super-Earth’ which is the best place to look for signs of life outside of the Solar System.科学家回应,这颗行星是一个“超级地球”,是在太阳系外找寻生命迹象的最佳自由选择。

Early indications suggest it has an atmosphere, and sits within the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ where it is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist.早期迹象指出,该行星享有大气层,并且坐落于“可居住于带上”内,既会太热,也会太冷,合适液态水不存在。And it is only 40 light years from Earth meaning that it could be possible to send a signal.而且它距离地球只有40光年的距离,这意味著发送到信号是不存在可能性的。“This is the most exciting exoplanet I’ve seen in the past decade,” said lead author Jason Dittmann of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.来自哈佛-史密森天体物理中心的主要作者杰森?迪特曼说道:“这是过去十年中我看见的最令人振奋的外部行星。”“We could hardly hope for a better target to perform one of the biggest quests in science — searching for evidence of life beyond Earth.”“在展开找寻地球以外的生命迹象这一科学领域最最出色的任务时,我们很难再行寻找比这颗行星更加合适的目标了。


”The planet was found by an international team of scientists who have been studying data from European Space Observatory’s High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) instrument which looks for regular changes in brightness of stars, which suggests a planet is passing by in orbit.一个国际科学家团队找到了这颗行星,他们仍然通过从欧洲空间天文台高精度径向速度行星探测器(HARPS)获得的数据展开研究。该仪器负责管理观测指出行星经过轨道的恒星亮度变化。The new world – dubbed LHS 1140b – is ten times closer to its parent star than Earth but because a red dwarf is far cooler than our own yellow dwarf, the planet still sits in the habitable zone.这一新发现的行星被称作LHS 1140b,与其母星的距离是地球与太阳距离的十分之一,但由于红矮星比身兼朱矮星的地球要冷得多,所以该行星还是坐落于宜居带上。


“The present conditions of the red dwarf are particularly favourable — LHS 1140b spins more slowly and emits less high-energy radiation than other similar low-mass stars,” added team member Nicola Astudillo-Defru from Geneva Observatory, Switzerland.瑞士日内瓦天文台的团队成员尼科拉?阿斯图迪略?德弗吕补足说:“这颗红矮星目前的状况十分不利,LHS 1140b的转速比其他类似于的低质量恒星更快,高能电磁辐射更加较低。”For life as we know it to exist, a planet must have liquid surface water and retain an atmosphere.我们所理解的生命需要不存在的条件是,行星必需有液态地表水,并且享有大气。

In this case, the planet’s large size and closeness to its sun means that a magma ocean could have existed on its surface for millions of years, which fed steam into the atmosphere, replenishing the planet with water.对于这颗行星来说,体积大并且与母星距离将近意味著其表面有可能有不存在了数百万年的岩浆海洋。海洋需要获释蒸汽到大气中,为整颗行星补足水分。Astronomers estimate the age of the planet to be at least five billion years, just a little older than Earth. They also deduced that it has a diameter 1.4 times larger than the Earth.天文学家估算,这颗行星的年龄最少为50亿年,比地球不存在的时间只宽一点。

他们还推断其直径是地球直径的1.4倍。But with a mass around seven times greater than the Earth, and hence a much higher density, it implies that the exoplanet is probably made of rock with a dense iron core.但是它的质量约是地球的7倍,所以密度要比地球低得多,这意味著这颗外部行星很有可能是由内核为高密度铁的岩石构成。