New Super Earth Found 22 Light Years Away Could Support Life

Using public data from the European Space Observatory and measurements from the Keck Observatory’s High Resolution Echelle Spectrograph and the new Carnegie Planet Finder Spectrograph at the Magellan II Telescope, an international team of researchers has discovered a new potentially habitable super Earth located in the ‘goldilocks zone’ relative to it’s star.

The new super planet, named GJ 667Cc, has a mass 4.5 times that of earth’s and is located 22 light years away in a triple-star system within the constellation Scorpius.  Two of it’s stars are far enough away from the planet to have no impact on it’s climate but are still visible in it’s sky.  GJ 667Cc takes 28 days to orbit the third sun, and lies within what astronomers consider to be an ideal distance to have the potential to support life.

“This planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life as we know it,” said study author, Anglada-Escudé.

Scientists at the Carnegie Institute for Science hope this discovery indicates that similar planets are common throughout the galaxy, based on the fact that GJ 667Cc was found so quickly and easily.  Further studies and future discoveries over the coming years should shed more light on whether or not that proves to be the case.

NASA astronaut Don Pettit, currently on the ISS as a member of the Expedition 30 crew, will use everyday objects from Earth to demonstrate physics through "Science off the Sphere" presentations for viewers on Earth. Photo Credit: NASA

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