Intriguing 'Super-Earth' Discovered More Than 20 Light Years Away


A multi-media simulation showing the new planet discovered at La... News PhotoBuilt Structure,Chile,Discovery,European Southern Observatory,Geographical Locations,Imitation,Planet - Space,Santiago - Chile,Science and Technology,Scientific ExplorationPhotographer Collection: AFP 2007 AFPSantiago, CHILE: TO GO WITH AFP STORY A multi-media simulation showing the new planet discovered at La Silla's observatory, 24 April 2007 at European Southern Observatory (ESO)'s facility in Santiago. Astronomers reported on Tuesday they had discovered a 'super-Earth' more than 20 light years away that is the most intriguing world found so far in the search for extraterrestrial life. About five times the mass of Earth, the planet orbits a cool, dim 'red dwarf' star located in the constellation of Libra, the team from the ESO said in a press release. The star, Gliese 581, has already been identified as hosting a planet similar in size to Neptune, the frigid gas giant on the edge of our own Solar System. The new planet is 14 times closer to Gliese 581 than the Earth is to the Sun. But because Gliese 581 is so cool, the planet is not scorched by solar radiation. It zips around the star at express speed, making just 13 days to complete an orbit. AFP MARTIN BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)