Best Non-TV Story of the Day: 'Super-Earth' Planet Discovered, Believed to Be Capable of Supporting Life Business Insider
Scientists have discovered what’s being described as a “super-Earth” planet where conditions are right for the planet to sustain life, Business Insider reports.
The planet, which has at least seven times the mass of Earth, is one of six planets orbiting a star called HD 40307, 42 light-years from Earth. The planet circles its star at a distance that would allow it to support life, according to researchers.
A light-year is about 6 trillion miles, the piece notes.
“Scientists discovered three planets that closely orbit HD 40307 in 2008. A reanalysis of the data found three new planets, all much larger than Earth, that also orbit the host star,” the story reports.
“The study, led by Mikko Tuomi from the University of Hertfordshire and Guillem Anglada-Escude from the University of Goettingen, was announced on Wednesday, Nov. 8, and will be published in a future issue of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.”
The other five planets are considered to be too close to the star to have water, and therefore would not be capable of sustaining life. “But one planet, called HD 40307-g, orbits in the star's ‘habitable zone,’” the story notes. “Essentially, the distance from its star is just right to support life -- it isn't too hot that liquid water would boil away, and the exoplanet receives enough energy from its star that its climate and atmosphere could be similar to Earth.”
Researcher Anglada-Escude said in a statement: "The star HD 40307 is a perfectly quiet old dwarf star, so there is no reason why such a planet could not sustain an Earth-like climate."
Researchers think “the planet rotates on its own axis as it orbits around the star, creating a daytime and night-time effect that would simulate the environment on Earth,” the piece adds.