Earth like planet found 14 light years away

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A team of Australian scientists has found the closest potentially habitable planet orbiting a star just 14 light years away.

At 130 trillion kilometres it might sound impossibly distant, but Wolf 1061 in the constellation Ophiucus is the 35th closest star to Earth. And 14 light years is just peanuts when it comes to space.

The University of NSW team, led by Duncan Wright, said three planets are orbiting Wolf 1061, a red dwarf “M-type” star.

All three are thought to be rocky like the Earth or Venus, rather than gaseous like Neptune, due to their estimated mass and radius.

“It is a particularly exciting find because all three planets are of low enough mass to be potentially rocky and have a solid surface. The middle planet, Wolf 1061c, sits within the ‘Goldilocks’ zone where it might be possible for liquid water – and maybe even life – to exist,” Dr Wright said.

The University of NSW team, led by Duncan Wright, said three planets are orbiting Wolf 1061, a red dwarf “M-type” star.

just like Earth

All three are thought to be rocky like the Earth or Venus, rather than gaseous like Neptune, due to their estimated mass and radius.

“It is a particularly exciting find because all three planets are of low enough mass to be potentially rocky and have a solid surface. The middle planet, Wolf 1061c, sits within the ‘Goldilocks’ zone where it might be possible for liquid water – and maybe even life – to exist,” Dr Wright said.

Perfect location

Of the three planets, one is too close to the star and hence too hot for life, and the other is too far out, and hence too cold. The middle planet could be just right.

That planet, Wolf 1061c, orbits the star every 18 days at a distance about 10 per cent of Earth’s orbit of the sun. However, the red dwarf star is substantially cooler than the sun, about 3300 Kelvin compared with the sun’s surface temperature of about 5800 Kelvin.

“Given how close the planet is to the star it is likely to be ‘tidally locked’,” Dr Wright told Fairfax Media. This means that one hemisphere of the planet will always face towards the star, much like one side of the moon always faces Earth

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Arindam loves aliens, mysteries and pursing his interest in the area of hacking as a technical writer at 'Planet wank'. You can catch him at his social profiles anytime.