New 'Super-Earth' Spotted

It's seven times the size of our planet, and just 42 light years away

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff | Suggested by AstroDude

Posted Nov 8, 2012 3:25 PM CST

(Newser) – Scientists have found another planet to add to the growing list of potential homes for life. Researchers recently spotted three new planets circling around HD 40307, just 42 light years from Earth, the BBC reports, and one of them is just far enough from the star that it could harbor liquid water. This so-called "super-Earth" is seven times the size of our home planet.

Scientists spotted the planet using the European Southern Observatory's Harps instrument to catch variations in HD 40307's light. "We pioneered new data analysis techniques," the lead author of the study explains. "This significantly increased our sensitivity, and enabled us to reveal three new super-Earth planets." The team now wants to use space telescopes to get a better look at the planet.

An artist's concept image of super-Earths circling HD 40307.
An artist's concept image of super-Earths circling HD 40307.   (WikiMedia/European Southern Observatory)
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