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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Super-Earth in 6-Planet System May Have Oceans, Life

•, By Adam Mann
 The exoplanet is a super-Earth, having about seven times the mass of our home planet, but orbits its parent star at roughly the same distance as Earth does from the sun. The star, HD 40307, is located about 42 light-years from Earth in the constellation Pictor. It’s what’s known as an orange dwarf star, making it somewhat smaller and dimmer than our sun, but not by much.

Three exoplanets were discovered around HD 40307 in 2008, but a team of European astronomers has reanalyzed data from the star and found the system contains three more worlds. This makes it look much more like our own solar system, with its eight planets.

The farthest planet in the HD 40307 system orbits with a period of about 200 days, a little more than half as long as our year, and is located about 56 million miles from its parent star. (In comparison, Earth is 93 million miles from the sun.) This puts it right smack in the star’s habitable zone — the area around a star where liquid water might remain on the surface.

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