Wednesday, September 14, 2011

16 'super-Earths' found outside solar system

It's not like aliens put up a welcome banner or anything, but scientists now have newly identified at least one planet that could potentially sustain life.

The European Southern Observatory has just announced the discovery of more than 50 new exoplanets (planets outside our solar system), including 16 super-Earths (planets whose mass is between one and 10 times that of our own planet).

One of these planets in particular could theoretically be home to life if conditions are right. It's called HD 85512 b, and scientists say it's about 3.6 times the mass of the Earth. This planet is about 35 light years from Earth. Its location with respect to its star suggests that this planet could have liquid water under certain circumstances.

Don't get too excited, though; there's a lot more work to be done to explore whether this planet is truly fit for life, in addition to whether there are alien life forms there. more