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ESO Astronomers Identify Potential Earth-Like Planet in Habitable Zone





Astronomers have discovered a new super-Earth in the habitable zone, where liquid water and a stable atmosphere could reside, around the nearby star HD 40307. HD 40307 is an orange (K-type) main sequence star located approximately 42 light-years away in the constellation of Pictor (the Easel). It is calculated to be slightly less massive than the Sun with six known planets orbiting it. In 2008, three extrasolar planets were discovered in orbit around the star --found to be hot super-Earths because they orbit too close to the star to support life.

In 2012, three more planets were discovered orbiting HD 40307. One of them, HD 40307 g is a Super-Earth with orbital period about 200 days, and might be capable of supporting liquid water. The three planets were found by an international team, including Carnegie co-author Paul Butler, led by Mikko Tuomi of the University of Hertfordshire and Guillem Anglada-Escudé of the University of Göttingen who used newly developed software that is able to process the signals more thoroughly, re-analyzing spectra detected by the radial velocity method, using the HARPS spectrograph system through the European Southern Observatory.

"With Guillem Anglada-Escudé's new velocity reduction package," said Butler, "we are able to extract more information from the HARPS spectra, and thus make a more precise measurement. This coupled with the innovative Bayesian orbital searching algorithm, primarily written by Mikko Tuomi, allows us to search deeper into the data and to find smaller Earth-sized planets around the nearest stars. This, of course, increases our chances of finding more in that orbital sweet spot that we call the habitable zone—the zone where it is not too cold, nor too hot for liquid water to exist."

The most interesting of the new planets is in the outermost orbit from the star, a distance that is similar to the distance between the Earth and our Sun. Its mass is at least seven times the mass of the Earth. The team said the planet is likely to be rotating on its axis while in orbit, possibly creating a day/night cycle and an Earth-like environment.

"The star HD 40307 is a perfectly quiet old dwarf star, so there is no reason why such a planet could not sustain an Earth-like climate," said Anglada-Escudé. The research will be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics and posted online at

The Daily Galaxy via the Carnegie Institute

Image credit: G. Anglada/Celestia


Is the solar output (radiation, light) of an old drawf star similar to that of a star like our Sun? Its great that the new planet is roughly the same orbital distance as Earth but if the star is , for example, 50% dimmer than the sun, then maybe the planet with a 200 day orbit is more habitable.

Please stop doing this:

title= "Getting Closer! New Earth-Like Planet with Surface Water in Habitable Zone Found"
first sentence= "..where liquid water and a stable atmosphere could reside,.."

They did not find a planet with water, researchers found a planet that could have water.

If only we had a way to transporting humans to this far-away planet, we could destroy that planet like we are destroying our current one... If wonder how long it would take, given the differential in planet size. Time will tell...

As a side notw, I second Steve's comment. Sensationalized titles (well, complete lies actually) like this one make me feel like I'm reading TMZ (and why would I be doing that?).

I agree with the previus poster, this headline is bogus, all that has been suggested here is that there are some planets around this star that are in the goldilox region, and it's possible that such planets may have free liquid surface water. If these observers have a method of determining the presence of such water I am sure the entire scientific establishment would be crowing about it. The actual amount of information given here is negligable, we can not even estimate surface gravity without figures for mass, density and planetary radii

Agreed! These headlines are making me rethink following this site. Does the staff read these comments? It's called "Truth in Journalism" and yes, by creating a website devoted to news, you are bound by certain journalistic ethics. So please listen to your readers and stop with the bogus headlines.

While I'm as excited as the next geek about the discovery of this planet, I get disappointed and irritated when I read the article and find that the headline was totally misleading.

Hey Daily Galaxy Editor - Your title is misleading - they didn't find a planet with water on its surface - they said they found a planet 7 time bigger than earth in that particular star's HZone, where water could exist as a liquid on the surface - get your facts straight if you are going to be a credible source of information. Stop trying to be sensationalistic and be more accurate.

Hey anybody who wants accurate reporting on this news article, go to - you will get the facts there, nothing but the facts and no sensationalistic, attention-grabbing headline. I am very disappointed with this website - it's becoming more like Yahoo - all flash and no substance.

7 x the size = approx 7 x the mass = 7 x the gravity = uninhabitable for humans even if we had any chance of getting there.

It appears too good to be true. Only a body of Astronomers/ Astro-scientists needs to be involved to present the observed truth about such a news. Distances between our Earth and the new one appear reasonable to achieve a human landing after more authentic details become available.

A planet with 8 times the mass of Earth would mean twice the gravity. It's not a simple X7 equation.

I agree with previous comments. Unfortunately, despite frequent criticisms, the Editors never correct their errors or headlines which are becoming more sensational and less accurate.

I'm opened minded about the possabilities, because in the end... you never know.
By the way like any other headline or title on tv,news paper or commercial... of course there will be some misleading titles, all the great chance of catching your attention to read!

I disagree with most of the comments. They may have found a planet with liquid water in the goldilocks zone that harbors intelligent life. You never know unless you go there and at a distance of 42 light years, we just might do that someday!

they had my attention. man i was excited. i still am cuz its progress but just not as much. water will mean life and i think theyre is life forms that we wouldnt even reconize as life. theres probably life in our own solar system on moons or lava tubes on mars hell i bet theres even life forms that live in space who knows. one thing i do know is this... any human being that is selfaware and that understands how vast and full of stuff our universe is will also understand how hard itll be to find those planets.i welcome any1s excitement but still have to read into it. i myself dont need the proof of earths or life. u shouldnt either. its the rest of the world that needs proof. itll be awesome the day the world is told were not alone. but for me its already awesome cuz i kno we are not alone. y do u still need proof? ur just a fool if u think outta all that stuff that theres only us. i bet we dont even rank on the scale of intelligent creatures. but its nice to b part of this wild universe whether we find others or not. im happy we know this much cuz it must suck ass to b stuck in the 50s like the rest of the world. thank u to all who study it, and thank u daily gal for passing it on.

Lol... And to think Casey was probably sent packing because people found his texts too extreme. I found them so over the top they were hilarious. But they always demonstrated why everything he was reporting was uber-awsome, instead of just throwing titles at the wind and hope they'd catch something.

Anyway, I'd expected something like that from the title, knowing the current trend of the site. It's great news, actually. Just not what it promised...Editor's Note: Thanks all for your input. Titles will be looked at with much more rigor going forward.

New headline is much better...Thanx.

Did you all miss the word POTENTIAL in the title... also you cant say for sure the gravitational acceleration on the surface unless you know the RADIUS of the planet as well as the mass. g=(GM)/(r^2) so if the planet was 7 times more massive than Earth and had a radius twice as large g would be 1.75 times that on earth. assuming the same density as Earth, this is possible. 2X the radius 8X the volume.

If they have survived and are able, lets hope they don't come here.

LOL I want to go there 7x gravity than earth.We can be super strong XD

Everyone just shut upo and stop trying to act smart about this stuff its so rediculous

I just want to live long enough to finally meet them, you know?


Astronomers and new discoveries are like Popular Science magazine with all sorts of gee whiz inventions that never make it to the market place for some reason. Words in astronomy articles such as "could" "might" "possibly" sort of get our hopes up in a false way since we "want" to know there are ETs out there and habitable planets like Earth. But breaking news is exciting and sells...whether it is only a "might" or not. Invent a darn space/time bow wave generator and warp/trick the space/time grid into letting you "go" faster than light and you'll be the first Earthling to visit other planets just like ETs visit us.

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