Potentially Habitable “Super-Earth” is Among 50 Newly Discovered Exoplanets

0 Posted by - September 12, 2011 - Science

 Potentially Habitable Super Earth is Among 50 Newly Discovered Exoplanets*Taken from io9.

HD 85512 b is a rocky planet about 3.6 times the mass of Earth, located right at the edge of its star’s habitable zone. That means it’s capable of supporting life… and the early results suggest it’s a very real possibility.

It’s one of 50 new exoplanets discovered by the HARPS team at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, which is part of the European Southern Observatory. This is the largest number of exoplanets ever discovered at one time, and it brings the number of confirmed exoplanets up to about 600. (The Kepler Space Telescope discovered 1,200 exoplanet candidates at one time, as opposed to confirmed planets.)

Recently, HARPS offered some of the most damning evidence yet that Gliese 581 g, the first rocky exoplanet discovered in its planet’s habitable zone, does not, in fact, exist. That’s the culmination of months of controversy about the planet’s status, and it leaves Gliese 581 d as the only known potentially habitable exoplanet, albeit one that enjoys far less ideal conditions than Gliese 581 g theoretically would have had.

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