A team of scientists led by led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé and Paul Butler from the Carnegie Institution for Science in the U.S. has discovered a new “Super-Earth” planet. The newly discovered planet is 4.5 times larger than Earth and revolves around its parent star (which much smaller than ours) in 28 days. The discovery suggests that habitable planets could exist in a wider variety of environments than previously suspected.
"This planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life as we know it," said Anglada-Escudé.
Dubbed GJ667Cc the planet is rocky like Earth and rich in elements such as iron, carbon and silicon. Of the hundreds of exoplanets discovered so far very few are considered Super-Earths and though GJ667Cc floats about 22 light years away, its right next door in comparison to other likely habitable planets.
The discovery was made using public data from the European Southern Observatory, along with new measurements from the Keck Observatory's High Resolution Echelle Spectrograph and the Carnegie Planet Finder Spectrograph at the Magellan II Telescope.
"With the advent of a new generation of instruments, researchers will be able to survey many M dwarf stars for similar planets and eventually look for spectroscopic signatures of life in one of these worlds," explained Anglada-Escudé.
[Image: Carnegie Institution for Science / Guillem Anglada-Escud]