A new ‘super Earth’ has been discovered, and it’s right next door.
Scientists combing the universe looking for a planet that might be capable of hosting life similar to our own have recently seen a host of new discoveries. And while engaging in exoplanet hunting, they’ve recently found a ‘super Earth’ with several intriguing characteristics.
A new study reveals the planet is orbiting GJ 536, a red dwarf star just 32.7 light years (10.03 parsecs) from Earth.
But there’s a catch – it is a super Earth and it is only 37.7 light years away, but it does also lie outside of the habitable zone of its star. Meaning, we can’t exactly expect to find life there.
The planet’s ‘super Earth’ classification comes from its size – super Earths are planets between one and fifteen times the mass of Earth. This one is more than five Earth masses, Futurism reports.
They also found that the planet has an orbital period of less than nine Earth days, and is just 0.06661 AU away from its star. Basically, the brightness of the red dwarf and the planet’s closeness to its star makes it an attractive candidate for figuring out its chemical composition based on how the star’s light strikes the atmosphere. Or, as scientists call it, transmission spectroscopy.
So while it may be disappointing to know that the planet can’t actually sustain life, the search for exoplanets is more than just a search for habitable worlds. The understanding these discoveries can bring alone is worth the effort.
Way to go, science.