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Worlds without end: Astronomers have discovered an exoplanet only slightly bigger then the Earth, and it’s only 39 light years away.
Berta-Thompson and the others estimate that GJ 1132b has a diameter of about 9,200 miles, slightly bigger than Earth. Its mass, however, is thought to be 60 percent greater than Earth’s. Its home star — GJ 1132 — is a red dwarf one-fifth the size of our sun. The planet circles every 1.6 days from just 1.4 million miles out, thus the heat wave. A slight dip in the starlight every 1.6 days was the giveaway for the observing team. “Our ultimate goal is to find a twin Earth,” said astronomer David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, one of the authors, “but along the way we’ve found a twin Venus.”