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Beyond Earthly Skies

Super-Earth in the Habitable Zone of a Cool Star

2 Jul 2014, 22:00 UTC
Super-Earth in the Habitable Zone of a Cool Star
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Hundreds of extrasolar planetary systems have been discovered over the past 2 decades. The discoveries show a surprising diversity of planetary systems, with many of these systems far stranger than imagined. Among these discoveries are numerous Earth-size and super-Earth-size planets circling in the habitable zone (HZ) of their host stars where temperatures are believed to be just right for liquid water to exist. Using data gathered with the 6.5 m Magellan Telescope located at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, R.A. Wittenmyer et al. (2014) report on the discovery of yet another super-Earth-size planet in the HZ.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of GJ 832c as compared with Earth. Image credit: PHL @ UPR Arecibo.The planet, identified as GJ 832c, lies just 16 light-years away. It orbits an M dwarf star that is much smaller and cooler than the Sun. The suffix “c” identifies GJ 832c as the second planet detected around the star. A Jupiter-like planet identified as GJ 832b was the first planet detected around the star and it orbits in a nearly-circular 9.4-year orbit. Much closer to the host star is GJ 832c, super-Earth-size planet situated within the HZ, albeit towards the warmer edge of the HZ. On average, GJ ...

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