Jun 30, 2014 04:10 AM EDT
Researchers Find Closest Earth-Like Planet Yet
University of New South Wales researchers have discovered a potentially habitable Earth-like planet that is only 16 light years away.
Researchers said that the "super-Earth" planet, dubbed GJ 832 c, takes 16 days to circle its red-dwarf star (GJ 832), its mass is five times than that of Earth, receives similar average amount of stellar energy as Earth and is predicted to have similar temperatures to Earth.
Chris Tinney, team member and Head of UNSW's Exoplanetary Science research group, said that even if this planet possesses similar atmosphere and habitable environment, seasonal shifts would be extreme (hot and volatile). If this is the case, the planet will be more like a super-Venus than a super-Earth.
"However, given the large mass of the planet, it seems likely that it would possess a massive atmosphere, which may well render the planet inhospitable. A denser atmosphere would trap heat and could make it more like a super-Venus and too hot for life," Tinney said in a statement.
However, it is one of the most Earth-like planets ever discovered. According to the Earth Similarity Index developed by scientists at the University of Puerto Rica in Arecibo, Gliese 832c is one of the top three most Earth-like planets. According to Abel Mendez Torres from the Planetary Habitability Lab, the newly-discovered planet is the closest to Earth among the other three.
"It's just a stone's throw from Earth in the cosmic scheme of things," Mike Wall from Space.com, said.
In 2009, scientists discovered a Jupiter-like cold planet dubbed Gilese 832b orbiting the same star.
The finding is published in the Astrophysical Journal.
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