The Straits Times
Published on Nov 10, 2012

Planet outside our solar system may support life: Study


WASHINGTON (AFP) - A newly-discovered alien planet seven times bigger than Earth may be able to support life, astronomers wrote in a study appearing in the journal Astronomy And Astrophysics. The planet, dubbed HD 40307g, is one of only a few to be discovered in the "habitable zone": a sweet spot, neither too close or too far from its sun, where liquid water could exist.

The so-called "super-Earth" orbits its star - HD 40307, a dwarf just slightly smaller, cooler and less bright than our Sun - every 200 days.

It is relatively close to the solar-system neighborhood, just 42 light years away. A light year is equivalent to about 9,460 billion km.

"The star HD 40307 is a perfectly quiet old dwarf star, so there is no reason why such a planet could not sustain an Earth-like climate," said astronomer Guillem Anglada-Escude of the University of Goettingen in Germany.