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Astronomers discover nearby Earth-sized exoplanet only slightly hotter than Earth

Using the TESS space telescope as well as a number of ground-based telescopes astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized exoplanet only 40 light years away that has a surface temperature estimated to be about 107 degrees Fahrenheit, assuming it has no atmosphere.

The host star, called Gliese 12, is a cool red dwarf located almost 40 light-years away in the constellation Pisces. The star is only about 27% of the Sun’s size, with about 60% of the Sun’s surface temperature. The newly discovered world, named Gliese 12 b, orbits every 12.8 days and is Earth’s size or slightly smaller — comparable to Venus. Assuming it has no atmosphere, the planet has a surface temperature estimated at around 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius).

At the moment however scientists do not yet know if the exoplanet has an atmosphere or not. Follow-up observations using the Webb Space Telescope are planned to find this out. Based on the data presently available, the exoplanet could either be like Venus, too hot to sustain life, or like Earth, cooler with water and an atmosphere and thus very habitable.

Gliese 12 b could therefore become one of the primary targets for the first interstellar missions once humanity begins such exploration.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Steve Richter

    How many stars are within 40 light years of our solar system? And if there is an Earth sized planet orbiting a Sun like star within 40 light years from Earth, would astronomers have seen it by now? Then, what percentage of the Milky Way is located within a 40 light year radius from Earth. Use that number to extrapolate the number of temperate Earth sized planets within the entire galaxy.

  • Jeff Wright

    This is the system that should be called “Vulcan,”
    not Epsilon Eridani

  • Sailorcurt

    “Gliese 12 b could therefore become one of the primary targets for the first interstellar missions once humanity begins such exploration.”

    Seriously? We haven’t even sent a manned mission to Mars yet and we’re already talking about “interstellar” missions that would take something like 300k years using current technology.

    I’d be shocked if human beings aren’t extinct in 300k years…if I were alive to be shocked, that is.

    Discovering “nearby” celestial bodies and hypothesizing about what we think the conditions on those planets are like is a fun intellectual exercise, but that’s all it is and most likely all it will ever be.

  • If it orbits every 12.8 days, I am guessing it will be tidally locked. Certainly an interesting find.

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