Discovery reported that astronomers have discovered a planet that was about 5 times bigger than Earth and has liquid water on its surface. The newly found planet circles a star dimmer than the sun that is located 22 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. It passes around its parent star in 28.15 days. While far closer to its star than Earth is to the sun, the planet’s parent star, known as GJ 667C, is a small dwarf star that emits most of its light in infrared radiation. That means GJ 667C's so-called "habitable zone" — the region where surface water can exist in liquid form — is closer than our sun's region.
Astronomers are yet to confirm if the new planet is having any liquid forms of water but initial results look greatly promising. "It is possible to determine, but we have to be lucky. The planet would have to transit in front of the star. We haven't checked yet if that happens," lead researcher Guillem Anglada-Escudé told in an interview.
GJ 667Cc was discovered after Anglada-Escudé and his team rechecked data collected by a rival planet-hunting group in Europe called HARPS.
The planets orbit a star that is partnered with a pair of metal-poor binary stars. Previously, scientists didn’t believe such stars would have the right building blocks for planets. If there is any life on GJ 667Cc, it likely would be very different from what is found on Earth. Rather than yellow star, GJ 667Cc's sun is red.
This research appears in this week's Astrophysical Journal Letters.