HD 40307g is 44 light-years away (Photo : NASA)
Astronomers digging through old data from the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) in Chile have discovered a "Super-Earth" 44 light-years away from earth located in a habitable region of space.
The planet neighbors five others in the star HD 40307. Space.com notes that the "super-earth" is seven times the size of our planet, maintains a day and night cycle which "improves its chances of hosting an Earth-like climate," and takes on 62 percent of the radiation that Earth recieves from the sun.
The University of California's Steven Vogt told Discovery News that "All we know at this point is that it has a minimum mass of about 7.1 Earth-masses. We have no explicit follow-up planned, thought the HARPS team is probably still gathering more data, and may in the future be able to confirm these results, and perhaps add even more planets to the brood,"
HD 40307's conditions allow for the presence of water, a necessity for organic life.
Lead authors of the study, Mikko Tuomi of the University of Hertfordshire, and Guillem Anglada-Escude of the University of Goettingen state, "Even though the radiation is somewhat low compared to that received by the Earth, we note that the Earth lies actually reasonably close to the inner boundary of the sun's habitable zone."
They add, "The planetary system around HD 40307 has an architecture radically different from that of the solar system."
"We feel pretty comfortable that these six panets are all there," Vogt said.
The scientists' study will be published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.