Astronomers have found a nearby "Super Earth" exoplanet that can support life as we know it.
An international group of astronomers discovered the planet using the Transiting Exoplanet of the NASA Surveying Satellite (TESS) earlier this year in the constellation Hydra, located about 31 light-years from Earth, according to a NASA statement. (One light-year is the distance the light travels in a year, about six trillion miles or ten trillion kilometers.)
It is believed that the exoplanet, named GJ 357 d, is about twice the size of Earth and Six times as big as the harbor is Earth's mass. Scientists who are at the outer edge of the "habitable zone" of their host star believe that this super-earth could have water on their surface 1
"It could capture enough heat to warm the planet and allow liquid water on its surface," said Diana Kossakowski, a researcher at the Max Planck Society. Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg and co-author of the recent study.
The potentially habitable planet and two neighboring worlds revolve around a dwarf star, about one-third the size and mass of our own sun and 40% cooler. TESS noted that the light of this little star slightly attenuates every 3.9 days – an indication that an exoplanet is doing its face traversing star as Mercury to the Sun and is likely to have a surface temperature of around 490 degrees Fahrenheit (254 degrees Celsius).
But GJ 357 b may be habitable Neighbor planet soon stole the show. Further observations revealed that GJ 357 d orbited its star every 55.7 days at a distance of about one fifth of the Earth's distance from the Sun, and could have Earth-like conditions, as revealed by a Cornell University Declaration .  "We built the first models of what this new world could look like," said Jack Madden, a graduate student at Cornell and co-author of the study, in the statement. "Just knowing that liquid water can exist on the surface of this planet motivates scientists to look for ways to recognize signs of life."
The other planet in the system, GJ 357 c, is at least 3.4 times as massive as the Earth and orbits the star every 9.1 days. GJ 357 c is likely to have a surface temperature around 260 Fahrenheit (127 C), NASA officials said.
The team hopes to be able to search for signs of life on the exoplanet with future telescopes.
The study was published on July 31 in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics .