Space

New "Super-Earth" discovered only 22 light years away

New "Super-Earth" discovered o...
An artistic conception of the triple star system where GJ667Cc resides (Image: Carnegie Institution for Science / Guillem Anglada-Escud)
An artistic conception of the triple star system where GJ667Cc resides (Image: Carnegie Institution for Science / Guillem Anglada-Escud)
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The planet called GJ667Cc is rocky like Earth and is rich in heavy chemical elements such as iron, carbon and silicon (image: University Gottingen)
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The planet called GJ667Cc is rocky like Earth and is rich in heavy chemical elements such as iron, carbon and silicon (image: University Gottingen)
An artistic conception of the triple star system where GJ667Cc resides (Image: Carnegie Institution for Science / Guillem Anglada-Escud)
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An artistic conception of the triple star system where GJ667Cc resides (Image: Carnegie Institution for Science / Guillem Anglada-Escud)
NASA's Kepler mission detected the most Earth-like planet yet - Kepler 22b (Image: Artist rendering from NASA)
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NASA's Kepler mission detected the most Earth-like planet yet - Kepler 22b (Image: Artist rendering from NASA)
The new Super-Earth has a mass that is 4.5 times larger than that of our planet and it revolves around its sun in 28 days (Image: NASA)
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The new Super-Earth has a mass that is 4.5 times larger than that of our planet and it revolves around its sun in 28 days (Image: NASA)
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An international team of scientists led by Professors Guillem Anglada-Escudé and Paul Butler from the Carnegie Institution for Science in the U.S. has discovered a potentially habitable Super-Earth that's "just" 22 light years away. The new Super-Earth has a mass that is 4.5 times larger than that of our planet and it revolves around its parent star in 28 days - a star that is significantly smaller than ours. This remarkable new discovery suggests that habitable planets could exist in a wider variety of environments than previously believed.

Of the 750-odd exoplanets (extrasolar planets) discovered so far only very few can be considered "Super-Earths." This newly discovered example called GJ667Cc is rocky like Earth and is rich in heavy chemical elements such as iron, carbon and silicon. Positioned at a distance from Earth of 22 light years, corresponding to a bit over 129 trillion miles (209 trillion km), the planet can be considered to be on Earth's doorstep. Furthermore the planet is expected to absorb about the same amount of energy from its star that our Earth absorbs from the Sun. Surface temperatures are therefore expected to be similar to Earth's and the existence of water is quite possible.

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

The team made the discovery using public data from the European Southern Observatory, incorporated with new measurements from the Keck Observatory's High Resolution Echelle Spectrograph and the new Carnegie Planet Finder Spectrograph at the Magellan II Telescope.

The team is also hopeful that within the triple star system where GJ667Cc resides, there may be the presence of a gas-giant planet and an additional super-Earth with an orbital period of 75 days. However, further observations are needed to confirm these two possibilities.

"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.

Source: Carnegie Institution for Science

View gallery - 4 images
20 comments
TogetherinParis
We need to go.
Slowburn
What\'s the surface acceleration?
Bigbrother Iswatchingu
How long will it take to get there with our present means of transportation?
Leon Van Rensburg
Well, I\'m no astrophysicist, but using the volume of a sphere method to calculate earth\'s effective density (mass per volume), multiplying mass by 4.5 (as above) and using the reverse density method to get a radius size (thus assuming the same mass / volume due to assumed similar composition of minerals) , I get a radius for GJ667Cc as 3.2927E+12 (± 581 291 569 times earth\'s radius!). Punching that into the formula with the gravitational constant (G = 6.6726 x 10-11N-m2/kg2) with acceleration a = GM/r^2, I get a surface gravity of ± 1.65m/s^2. That\'d make you 5.9 times lighter there than here (due to the large distance there from the planet core). Someone please help us right? :-D
Chi Sup
We come in peace... to rape your planet, enslave you and take away everything that you hold dear, your history included. We leave for the next one once this one\'s ashes. If there\'s life on that planet I hope they prep their nukes to deter the planet raping race that we are.
Marco Pang
*I don\'t want to live on this planet anymore*
Artisteroi
so we see these systems with radio telescopes and they have multiple stars. Has anyone considered that from a distance, with a radio telescope, Earth will look like a second smaller star in this system? It\'s just radio noise that they are looking at. Earth makes a lot of radio noise. So what if those secondary stars are actually civilizations? Anyone think about that?
Richie Suraci
This may be the planet that all those Ashtar Command people may want to settle on and be transported to !!!!
estillings
@Aristeroi
Radio emissions from stars tend to be largely static and have no discernable pattern. Emissions from Earth, (from man-made sources) TV & radio broadcasts, GPS signals etc. have a very distinguishable pattern. This pattern is used in ALL radio transmissions, it\'s binary and we\'d know if a star (or planet) was transmitting in binary... Take, for example, the Voyager 1 space probe, the farthest man-made object from Earth (at 119 Astronomical Units). It transmits radio waves encoded in binary to Earth and we have no trouble deciphering its signals; they don\'t look like a star\'s emissions at all. This is because space causes no distortion to radio signals. If a civilization was transmitting in binary, it would look very different from a star\'s emissions and we would definitely be able to detect it.
Adrien
@Leon
there\'s something seriously wrong with your calc. cube root of 4.5 is only 1.65, so it has 1.65 times earth radius, and as it turns out therefore 1.65 times the force of gravity at the surface.
Still a little uncomfortable I think.