Here Are 4 of the Closest Exoplanets That Could be Home to Alien Life

The universe is a vast place. It’s so big that we can’t possibly explore its outermost regions with the technology we possess today. Despite this, mankind has made extensive progress as we’ve explored our solar system, galaxy, and parts of the universe using the best tools at our disposal.

In fact, our universe is so freakishly huge that despite our best calculations and theories, we can’t fully understand its size, or why it even exists.

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Astronomers assume that the proper distance—the distance as would be measured at a specific time, including the present—between our planet and what is considered the edge of the observable universe is 46 billion light-years (14 billion parsecs), which means that the diameter of the observable universe about 93 billion light-years (28 billion parsecs).

All of us reside in the Milky Way Galaxy, our very own sanctuary in space. Compared to the universe, the Milky Ways is tiny. Our Galaxy, the Milky Way contains at least 400 Billion stars, the number of planets that exist orbiting said stars is a number too large to fathom. Furthermore, the Milky Way galaxy is about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilometers (about 621,371,000,000,000,000 miles) across and its radius is around 52,850 light years.

The Milky Way is part of a supermassive intergalactic structure, some 500 million light-years across— which contains around 100,000,000,000,000,000 Suns extended through its 100,000 150,000 galaxies, called Laniakea.

This means that we are surrounded by potentially habitable solar systems, which may be home to potentially habitable planets.

In this article, we concentrate on four exoplanets which, according to astronomers, may boast the necessary conditions for life as we know it to exist on their surface.

LHS 1140-b

This artist’s impression shows the exoplanet LHS 1140b, which orbits a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth and may be the new holder of the title “best place to look for signs of life beyond the Solar System”. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
This artist’s impression shows the exoplanet LHS 1140b, which orbits a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth and maybe the new holder of the title “best place to look for signs of life beyond the Solar System”. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This exoplanet was found to be a gigantic, rocky planet orbiting within the conservative habitable zone of the red dwarf LHS 1140.

The alien world was discovered not long ago in 2017 by the MEarth Project. The exoplanet is 7 times the mass of our planet and over 40% larger in radius, which means it lies within the Super-Earth category of planets.

LHS 1140-b is located around 40 light years from Earth, which means it is one of the closest potentially habitable exoplanets to Earth.

Ross 128 b

This artist’s impression shows the temperate planet Ross 128 b, with its red dwarf parent star in the background. This planet, which lies only 11 light-years from Earth, was found by a team using ESO’s unique planet-hunting HARPS instrument. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
This artist’s impression shows the temperate planet Ross 128 b, with its red dwarf parent star in the background. This planet, which lies only 11 light-years from Earth, was found by a team using ESO’s unique planet-hunting HARPS instrument. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This exoplanet is another confirmed, Earth-sized world, likely rocky, and orbits within the habitable zone of the red dwarf Ross 128. The alien world is located approximately 11 light years away, Ross 128-b is one of the closest, potentially habitable exoplanets to Earth. According to astronomers, Ross 128-b is only 35% more massive than Earth. It receives around 38% more sunlight than Earth and is expected to be home to temperatures suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface.

Proxima-b

Artist's impression of the exoplanet Proxima Centauri b shown as of a arid (but not completely water-free) rocky Super-Earth. This appearance is one of several possible outcomes of current theories regarding the development of this exoplanet, while the actual look and structure of the planet is known in no ways at this time. Proxima Centauri b is the closest exoplanet to the Sun and also the closest potentially habitable exoplanet as well. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Artist’s impression of the exoplanet Proxima Centauri b shown as of an arid (but not completely water-free) rocky Super-Earth. This appearance is one of several possible outcomes of current theories regarding the development of this exoplanet, while the actual look and structure of the planet are known in no ways at this time. Proxima Centauri b is the closest exoplanet to the Sun and also the closest potentially habitable exoplanet as well. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

One of the most famous, potentially habitable exoplanets out there. Proxima-b orbits the habitable zone of the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, which is the closest star to the Sun and part of a triple star system.

Located around 4.2 light years from Earth, it is one of the closest known exoplanets to our solar system.

It has an estimated mass of around 1.3 times that of the Earth. It was discovered in Augusts of 2016 and dubbed Earth 2.0. However, recent studies have questioned its habitability as astronomers theorize the world is subject to stellar wind pressures of more than 2,000 times those experienced by Earth from the solar wind.

Trappist-1e

Artist's impression of TRAPPIST-1e planet, as of 2018. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Artist’s impression of TRAPPIST-1e planet, as of 2018. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Also designated 2MASS J23062928-0502285, Trappist-1e is a solid, almost identical planet to Earth, orbiting the habitable zone of the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. The Trappist Star system is home to seven exoplanets that are believed to be rocky in nature.

In November 2018, researchers determined that of the seven exoplanets in the multi-planetary system, TRAPPIST-1e is the one with the greatest chance of being an Earth-like ocean world and the one most worthy of further study with regard to habitability.

While Trappist-1e is the one considered best suitable for life as we know it to exist on its surface, astronomers have revealed that its companion planets could also be habitable.

Trappist-1e is located around 40 light years from Earth.