Revealed: New Earth-like planet that could have a life-supporting climate and water

 

A new ‘super-Earth’ has been discovered that could have a life-supporting climate and water.

The planet, given the catchy name HD 40307g, was discovered in a multi-world solar system 42 light years from the Sun and lies at exactly the right distance from its star to allow liquid surface water.

It orbits well within the star's “habitable” or “Goldilocks” zone - the region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold to sustain life.

Professor Hugh Jones, from the University of Hertfordshire said: “The longer orbit of the new planet means that its climate and atmosphere may be just right to support life.”

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

The ‘super earth’ is one of six planets believed to circle the dwarf star HD 40307 in the constellation Pictor.

All the others are located outside the habitable zone, too close to their parent star to support liquid water.

Three of these were originally identified in 2009 by European Southern Observatory astronomers who used an instrument called Harps (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher) that reveals planets by detecting changes in starlight colour.

A new analysis of the Harps data has now revealed three more super-Earths – with HD 40307g exciting astronomers considerably more than the others thanks to its greater distance from its star.

Scientists believe the planet turns on its axis, giving it a regular day and night cycle and making its environment even more Earth-like.

Planets orbiting too close to their stars risk being ”tidally locked“ so they always have the same face pointing towards the star.

In the same way, the Moon always has its nearside facing the Earth. One side of such a planet is likely to be scorching hot while the other is dark and cold.

Scientists doubt that tidally locked planets could be habitable.

Like many other extra-solar planets, HD 40307g was found by observing wobbles in the motion of its parent star caused by the tug of its gravity.

The wobbles stretch or compress the wavelength of light from the star as seen from the Earth, making it redder as it moves away and bluer as it comes closer.

Analysing these patterns can provide information about the planet's mass.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Payroll Assistant

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Payroll Assistant is required...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Microsoft Gold Partner for...

Recruitment Genius: Database System Administrator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are based in Doncaster and...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Account Managers - Radio

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a highly successful mu...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy