Astronomers discover closest Earth-like planet

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Venus surface
The massive size of this newly discovered planet means that its atmosphere might be ultra-thick, trapping in enough heat to make it more of a Super-Venus than a Super-Earth!

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.