An international team of astronomers has discovered a star 22 light years (more than 200trn km) from Earth that’s orbited by at least six planets, three of which could support life.
The star, known as Gliese 667C, is about one-third the mass of our own sun and is part of a triple-sun system in the Scorpius constellation. Three of the planets orbiting Gliese 667C are thought to be in a ‘habitable zone’, where temperatures could support liquid surface water, Reuters reports.
Water is believed to be essential for supporting life and scientists believe the discovery of three planets occupying the habitable zone in a single system increases the odds of finding Earth-like planets elsewhere. “Instead of looking at 10 stars to look for a single potentially habitable planet, we now know we can look at just one star and have a high chance of finding several of them,” said University of Washington astronomer Rory Barnes, who is the lead US author of the research paper, which was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
The planets discovered, referred to as super-Earths, are larger than Earth but less than 10 times its size.
Solar system image via artshock/Shutterstock