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Super-Earth practically next door could be habitable

You may think this planet is overpopulated or you may just be sick of the partisan politics. In either case, HD 40307g is an attractive getaway.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
Forty-two light years away, the new super-Earth could have fantastic beachfront properties. Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET

It's only 42 light years away, it could have liquid water, and it's more than seven times bigger than our planet (in mass). So once we destroy this one, we're all set.

This latest super-Earth is called HD 40307g. It may sound like a tax form, but it's almost guaranteed to be paradise. It's right in a sweet spot orbit around HD 40307, a smaller star than the sun in the constellation of Pictor, where liquid water is possible. And the IRS can't reach you.

Three exoplanets were already known to orbit the star from observations up to 2008 but they are likely too close for liquid water. A new study of the data by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain revealed an additional three planets, with the farthest about as far from the star as Venus is to our sun.

"The longer orbit of the new planet means that its climate and atmosphere may be just right to support life," study co-author Hugh Jones said in a statement.

"Just as Goldilocks liked her porridge to be neither too hot nor too cold but just right, this planet or indeed any moons that it has lie in an orbit comparable to Earth, increasing the probability of it being habitable."

The data come from the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS), which is run by the European Southern Observatory and has discovered dozens of other exoplanets. Further studies are needed to confirm the planet's status, and telescopes of the future may be able to image it directly.

And of course we'll need warp drive to get there. Meanwhile, check out this video about your next getaway planet.

(Via Space.com)