Astronomers Detect Three ‘Super-Earths’ in Nearby Star’s Habitable Zone

A system with at least six planets


New observations of a star known as Gliese 667C have revealed a system with at least six planets, including a record-breaking three super-Earths orbiting in the star’s “habitable zone” where liquid water could exist on the planets. This is the first planetary system found to have a fully packed habitable zone.

“The three planets in the habitable zone are roughly Earth-sized, and only about three to four times the mass of the Earth,” said Steven Vogt, University of California, Santa Cruz astronomy and astrophysics professor who is on a team with Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism that made this discovery.

The same team announced last year they had already found one planet in the habitable zone of this star system. They suspected the presence of more planets but couldn’t confirm them given the data set available then. This new result confirms the presence of two previously known planets orbiting this star, but also reveals five more. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds both Vogt and Butler’s research.

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