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Sixty Newly Discovered Planets Include a Rocky 'Super Earth'

Feb 15, 2017 08:52 AM EST
Earth-Like Planet Discovered 20 Light Years Away
What's a super Earth? One was found in a neighboring star system just eight light years away from Earth.
(Photo : ESO via Getty Images)

Astronomers discovered 60 new planets, all orbiting stars that are relatively close to the Earth's solar system. The team was also able to collect evidence of 54 other planets, potentially bringing the total of new worlds to 114, a report from the University of Hertfordshire revealed.

Part of data collected over 20 years in the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey, this large haul of new planets underscores the dizzying volume of planets scattered through space. University of Hertfordshire's Mikko Tuomi, one of the astronomers who was part of the study, pointed out that there are a lot more planets in the universe than there are stars.

"This means that virtually every star has a planet, or several of them, orbiting it," he explained in an email to Fox News. "Our discovery of dozens of new nearby planets highlights this fact. But it also does more. We are now moving on from simply discovering these worlds."

Tuomi added that the discovery can be used as an observational map, much like mapping an archipelago, for future observations of these newly discovered planets using giant telescopes.

One of the 60 new planets has been dubbed as a "super Earth". According to a report from Universe Today, a super Earth is a planet that has more mass than the Earth, but less compared to a planet like Uranus or Neptune.

This newly discovered super Earth, named Gliese 411b, may only be a few sizes bigger than Earth, but it was confirmed to be unhabitable because of the extremely high temperature in the planet. Orbiting the star Gliese 411, it was also described to have a rocky surface.

Despite its inability to host life, Gliese 411b remains of particular interest to scientists because of its relatively close proximity to Earth at just eight light-years away. It's part of the fourth-nearest star system to the Sun and the third-nearest planetary system.

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