Super Earth 200 Light-Years Away May Hold Ideal Temperatures for Liquid Water and Life

Scientists think they have found a distant planet—about 200 light-years from Earth—that may be capable of sustaining life. The planet, dubbed K2-155d, is a “super Earth,” about 1.6 times the size of our home planet, and revolves around a small, superhot dwarf star.

In a study published online now in The Astronomical Journal, a team of international scientists reveal that they have discovered 15 new exoplanets far away from our solar system. All of these planets orbit dwarf stars, much smaller yet hotter than our sun. However, of these exoplanets, the team thinks K2-155d is the most likely to contain liquid water on its surface, a press release on the study announced.

Much of the search for planets outside our solar system is centered on finding planets in the habitable zone. This refers to planets with a temperature ideal to hold liquid water, NASA reports. This trait is key to life on Earth, and as far as we know, life elsewhere as well.

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We haven’t been to K2-155d yet, but the team was able to estimate its temperature and general climate using simulations that took factors into consideration such as the planet’s radius and how far it was from its sun.

03_13_nightsky Yet another planet has been found in the night sky. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

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"In our simulations, the atmosphere and the composition of the planet were assumed to be Earth-like, and there's no guarantee that this is the case,” said lead study researcher Teruyuki Hirano of Tokyo Institute of Technology's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Phys Org reported.

Although “Earth-like,” K2-155d and our blue planet are not identical. For example, a year, or complete rotation around the center star, would only take 40 Earth days, Cnet reported. The planet also doesn’t likely revolve on an axis like Earth, which means that part of the planet would be in perpetual sunlight while the other part would be in ever darkness.

The search for exoplanets will likely be propelled forward with the launch of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite in April 2018. This satellite will help scientists find even more faraway planets, and perhaps bring us closer than ever on our never-ending search for alien life.

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