Originally thought to host just three planets, HD 40307 was recently discovered to be smuggling three more distant worlds – one of which might be Earth’s over-sized twin.
Among the six exoplanets that orbit their 42 light year distant star which rests in the Southern hemisphere constellation Pictor, this super-Earth, named HD 40307g, circles in the habitable zone bathed in HD 40307’s orange light.
It is thought conditions could just be right for the existence of liquid water and possibly a stable atmosphere.
The recent finding was captured via radial velocity at the European Southern Observatory’s HARPS apparatus, by a team of astronomers led by the University of Hertfordshire’s Mikko Tuomi and Guillem Anglada-Escude from the University of Goettingen in Germany.
The team of researchers believe that, while the five other exoplanets which tightly orbit HD 40307 would be too hot to support life as we know it, there really is something special about 40307g that has led astronomers to believe that, right now, it is the closest we have come to finding the fabled “Earth 2.0”.
Not only does the world hang out in the habitable zone of its star, but it’s suggested that it may be rotating on its axis and as it twirls, creates an Earth-like environment with days leading into nights.
Unfortunately, we have to wait for the next generation of large telescopes to find out if this is a friendly place to live or not, but in the meantime, and according to models, HD 40307g has been pinpointed as the most likely exoplanet where life could have a chance of residing.