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Bad Astronomy. Well now, this is an interesting discovery: astronomers have found what looks like a "super-Earth" – a planet more massive than Earth but still smaller than a gas giant – orbiting a nearby star at the right distance to have liquid water on it!

Bad Astronomy

Given that, it might – might – be Earthlike. This is pretty cool news. We’ve found planets like this before, but not very many! And it gets niftier: the planet has at least five siblings, all of which orbit its star closer than it does. Now let me be clear: this is a planet candidate; it has not yet been confirmed. The star is called HD 40307, and it’s a bit over 40 light years away (pretty close in galactic standards, but I wouldn’t want to walk there).

Massive planets tug on their star harder, so they’re easier to find this way. In this case, HD 40307 was originally observed a little while back by HARPS, and three planets were found. We don’t know how big the planet is, unfortunately. That’s exciting because of the prospect for life. Solor storm watch. Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive. The peoples astronomer. Stellarium. ESO.