New Super-Earth May Be Best Yet for Finding Signs of Life
The potentially habitable world is close enough that existing telescopes could look for an atmosphere and sniff for traces of extraterrestrials.
Astronomers have found a temperate planet a bit bigger and bulkier than Earth orbiting a small star just 40 light-years away. The newly announced world could be among the best targets to search for signs of life elsewhere in the cosmos.
“Small worlds are common,” says Lauren Weiss of the Université de Montréal. And this planet, she says, is one of the closest known rocky worlds outside our solar system. “It's in our sun's backyard.”
Using a telescope in Chile, astronomers watched the planet cross the face of a red dwarf star called LHS 1140, in the constellation Cetus. The world, named LHS 1140b, is about 1.4 times wider than Earth and it sits comfortably in an orbit where liquid