Scientists have discovered a “super Earth” orbiting the closest single star to Sun.
They say that the ”Super Earth could shine a light on Earth’s nearest planetary neighbours.
Astronomers studied Barnard’s Star, a red dwarf just six light years away — practically in our back garden, galactically speaking — and noticed the presence of a “frozen, dimly lit world” at least 3.2 times heavier than Earth.
The planet, known for now as Barnard’s Star b, is the second nearest to Earth outside the solar system and orbits its host star once every 233 days.
“It’s important because it’s really our nextdoor neighbour and we like to meet our neighbours in general,” Ignasi Ribas, from the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia and Spain’s Institute of Space Sciences, told AFP.
Despite being relatively close to its parent star, the planet receives less than two percent of the energy Earth gets from the Sun, and the team estimates it has a surface temperature of -170 degrees Celsius (-274 Farenheit) — far too cold to support life as we know it.
“It’s definitely not in the habitable zone, no liquid water. If it has any water or gas this is probably in solid form so that’s why we call it frozen,” said Ribas.