Practice English Speaking&Listening with: NASA Has Just Discovered a New Planet!

Difficulty: 0

You up for a little space adventure?

Well, ok then, strap in!

But todays destination wont just be a little cosmic pit stopit could be your

next home!

Basically, astronomers have recently found a potentially habitable planet, but the key

word here ispotentiallyso dont go packing your bags just yet!

This planet is called Barnards Star B.

(If youre wondering who Barnard is, Ill get to that a bit later.)

Anyway, if you step on its surface, youd probably see nothing around you except endless

ice fields.

Look up high into the dark sky, and youll see a little murky-looking circle.

No, thats not Barnards moonits the planets sun.

Now look down.

Deep under your feet lie countless rivers, lakes, and seas of liquid methane.

Ok, time out.

None of this sounds like something Id callhabitable,” at least not for humans!

So, thats it, there can be no life here.

Case closed!

Thanks for watching, remember to give this video alike,” share it with your...

Oh, Im kidding!

Give Barnard a chance, will ya?

Hey, ya never know, he could be hiding a lot more life than youd think in those rivers

and seas of methane!

Ok, back to our story.

Lets explore that murky little circle that I told you was Barnards sun, the one the

planet is orbiting around.

This star is only located 6 light-years away from us, and its the 4th closest star to

our solar system.

Try to imagine our sun 5 times smaller and much less bright.

Well, thats Barnards Star for you, and it has some other absolutely unique properties.

Believe it or not, its the only star that bears the name of the astronomer who studied


Now, lets meet him!

Though Edward Emerson Barnard wasnt the first to discover this star, he proved in

1916 that its the fastest star known to us.

Yes, all stars are moving across the universe, but Barnards Star is doing it at top speeds.

And not only that, its actually constantly approaching our solar system.

Hey, dont worryit wont cause any trouble to anyone!

But one day in the next 10,000 years, itll come closer to us than the Suns current

nearest neighbor-star: Proxima Centauri.

Well, 10,000 years may sound like a lot, but in the cosmic scale of our galaxy, its

a mere moment, maybe two at the most.

Barnards Star is what astronomers call a red dwarfa small, dim, and truly ancient

star thats getting pretty close to the end of its life cycle.

And, yes, Barnards star fits the bill of a red dwarf.

Its so ancient that it probably saw the birth of the Milky Way Galaxy itself.

At around 10 billion years old, its easily twice as old as our own Sun.

For something normally as bright and heavy as a star, being small, dim, and super-fast

is pretty remarkable!

So its no wonder Barnards Star drew so much attention from astronomers.

Ok, but what about all this talk of a habitable planet?

Im getting there!

So, the first person to assume there was a planet somewhere near this star was astronomer

Peter van de Kamp.

Back in the 60s, he observedwobblesin the stars movement.

So, wobbles = planet?

Well, yeah, pretty much!

You can even conduct your own little experiment and see for yourself.

Try and lift something heavy in both hands, and spin it around yourself a few times as

carefully as you can.

Youll quickly notice that this object isnt the only thing thats movingitll

move you too!

Or at least itll make you wobble a bit.

The exact same kind of wobble is present when a star is spinning a planet around itself.

Unfortunately for Peter van de Kamp, his observations were later proven to be flawed, but that doesnt

mean he was completely wrong because there is, indeed, a planet around Barnards Star!

And weve now come full circle.

Barnards Star B was finally discovered on November 14, 2018.

An international team of astronomers led by Dr. Ignasi Ribas from the Institute of Space

Studies of Catalonia started their research 20 years ago when they observed Barnards

Star doing some other weird stuff besides wobbling.

From time to time as it was moving across space, its light would change.

Itd look kinda red one minute and then become bluish the next.

Besides the whole wobbling thing, this kind of shift in starlight is another sign of an

orbiting planet.

They took lots of measurements with the most advanced astronomical equipment you could

imagine, and they came out with 99% certainty that the planet Barnards Star B exists.

Now, its considered to be a super-earth class planet.

Sounds kinda epic, right?

Something like Earths cooler older brother, and thats not exactly wrong!

Barnards Star B has slightly more than 24 hours in a day, and its always sunny

there no matter what.

And now its definitely starting to sound like a better version of Earth!

Butsuper-earthis just the term astronomers use to describe only the size of a planet

thats larger than Earth but considerably smaller than ice giants like Neptune.

As for Barnards Star B, its about 3 times more massive than our planet.

But its nothing like it, and you already know that by now!

Remember those seas of liquid methane?

Yeah, its all coming back to me!

Anyway, besides that, this planet is a huge ball of rock and ice that lies beyond the

habitable zone of its star.

Even though its closer to Barnards Star than our Earth is to the Sun, its star provides

only 3% of the light that our Sun does.

(Remember, its a small, dim, red dwarf.)

And even if we still decided to meeta new dawn for humanityon this planet, thered

be one major problem: there wouldnt be a dawn at all!

Barnards Star is so dim that it barely lights up anything on the planet.

And how would you feel about living in temperatures of -275°F below zero?!

Well, thats the estimated average temperature on the surface of Barnards Star B, so,

grab your mittens!

The only planet-like object in our solar system that resembles Barnards Star B would be

Saturns largest moon: Titan.

And thats exactly what makes the discovery of Barnards Star B so exciting!

Astronomers are really interested in studying Titan, and thats why theyve become so

enthralled by this new discovery.

This planet, just like Titan, is partially composed of ice, which means that it has water.

Of course, its too cold for liquid water to be there, but it has its own forms of lakes,

rivers, and oceans that you already know are liquid pools of methane.

And according to a 2015 study at Cornell University, chances are that simple methane-based lifeforms

can develop and survive in these conditions.

So, in a nutshell, there could be something alive floating in a methane lake under the

surface of an icy planet 6 light-years away from where youre sitting right now.

Pretty cool, huh?

But lets not forget that the existence of such lifeforms is pure theory.

So the idea that this newly found Barnards Star B planet is habitable for us humans is

really far-fetched for now.

But in the miraculous world of science, theres always room for new unexpected discoveries!

Not to mention, even if Barnards Star B isnt exactly aswipe rightfor us

Earthlings, weve still got some other potential candidates.

Actually, one of them is right in our neighborhood!

Remember Proxima Centauri?

Ya know, our Suns closest neighbor-star?

Well, its got a planet of its own called Proxima Centauri B. (Lengthy name, but we

can work on rebranding if we decide to move there!)

This planet is actually pretty fascinating!

Its slightly bigger than Earth, and it receives just enough light from Proxima Centauri

to keep temperatures above 32°F. Although one side of the planet never sees starlight

and the other is literally baked by its sun, the planets equator could be quite livable,

even for humans!

So, would that make us Proxima Centaurians?

Proxima Centauri Bees?

Eh, like I said, well work out the details later!

So, do you really think humankind will ever find a habitable planet to make our new home,

or is this just the stuff of sci-fi movies?

Let me know your thoughts down in the comments!

And dont forget to give this video alike,” share it with your friends, and clicksubscribe

to always stay on the Bright Side of life!

The Description of NASA Has Just Discovered a New Planet!