February 4, 2012
Astronomers have discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth planet orbiting a nearby star, making it one of the best candidates to support life.
The newly found planet, called GJ 667Cc, has a mass 4.5 times that of Earth and orbits its host star every 28 days.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The research team used public data from the European Southern Observatory and analyzed it with great precision.
The star, GJ 667C, is a member of a triple star system and is different from our Sun as it lacks in metallic elements.
GJ 667C is a red dwarf and is located in the constellation Scorpio about 22 light years away from Earth.
The super-Earth planet receives 90% of the light that our planet receives but the planet is expected to absorb about the same amount of energy that Earth absorbs as more of the star’s light is infrared.
The level of energy and light absorption makes it possible for the planet to have liquid water and more balanced surface temperature.
“This planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life as we know it,” said co-discoverer Guillem Anglada-Escude.
“If it has an atmosphere, it’s probably reddish all the time, because the star is really red,” Anglada-Escude added.
The team notes that the system might also contain a gas-giant planet and an additional super-Earth.
A detailed description of the new super-Earth will be published in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.