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Researchers discover potentially habitable super-Earth

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Staff Writer | August 16, 2017
LHS 1140b
Space   Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) claimed to have discovered a super-Earth, dubbed LHS 1140b, orbiting in the habitable zone of a small red dwarf star.

The red dwarf star, designated LHS 1140, is around 39 light-years away from Earth and 4.2 light-years from our nearest star Proxima Centauri. The researchers estimated that the exoplanet is roughly 11,000 miles in diameter.

Postdoctoral fellow Jason Dittmann said in a CfA statement, “This is the most exciting exoplanet I’ve seen in the past decade. We could hardly hope for a better target to perform one of the biggest quests in science — searching for evidence of life beyond Earth.”

The researchers used Chile-based MEarth-South telescope array to detect the LHS 1140b. The eight-telescope array studies faint red dwarf stars in a bid to detect orbiting exoplanets as they transit their host stars.

Dittmann and his team reported the discovery of the potentially habitable exoplanet in the most recent edition of the journal Nature.

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