By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Astronomers are always on the lookout for Earth-like planets in the universe, whose size, atmosphere, and distance from the nearest star may create life-sustaining water. Although dozens have already been found, a group of scientists recently discovered the nearest Earth-like planet ever, at a distance of 16 lightyears!
Since light travels at 186,000 miles a second, a lightyear is still a mega long distance, coming in at around 6 trillion miles.
However, in cosmic terms, this Earth-like planet is like a next door neighbor! It definitely has the bigger house on the block, though, with a mass that’s more than 5 times the mass of the Earth.
That massive size means this Earth-like planet, called Gliese 832c, is a Super-Earth. Unfortunately, it orbits a dimly burning red dwarf star, and doesn’t spin closely enough to the star’s heat for water to remain in a liquid state. The potentially rocky world also has conditions that may create a thicker atmosphere, trapping in heat like the hostile planet Venus. So, Gliese 832c may be better defined as a Super-Venus!
Speaking of comparisons to our planets, there’s a huge Jupiter-like gas giant near this Earth-like planet, which is why astronomers are calling the star system a mini version of our Solar System!
Featured image courtesy of the Astronomical Society of the Caribbean / PHL / UPR / Arecibo. Image of Venus surface conditions courtesy of NASA.