New habitable planet discovered

Friday, February 3rd 2012. | Science News

New habitable planet discoveredWASHINGTON: International astronomers said on Friday they have found the fourth potentially habitable planet outside our solar system with temperatures that could support water and life about 22 lightyears from Earth .

The team analyzed data from the European Southern Observatory about a star known as GJ 667C, which is known as an M-class dwarf star and puts out much less heat than our Sun .

However , at least three planets are orbiting close to the star , and one of them appears to be close enough that it likely absorbs about as much incoming light and energy as Earth , has similar surface temperatures and perhaps water .

The new rocky planet , GJ 667Cc, orbits its star every 28.15 days – meaning its year equals about one Earth month – and has a mass at least 4.5 times that of Earth , according to the research published in Astrophysical Journal Letters .

“This planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and , perhaps , life as we know it,” said Guillem Anglada-Escude who he conducted the research . The theory aboutwater ,however ,cannotbeconfirmed until astronomers learn more aboutthe planet’s atmosphere .

Other planets circling the same star – which is part of a three-star system – could include a gas-giant and an additional super-E arth with an orbital period of 75 days , but more observations are needed to confirm that .

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