NASA has discovered Earth’s new next-door neighbor.
NASA announced on Thursday that astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope have confirmed the discovery of the closest rocky planet outside the solar system. The close proximity of this alien world makes it an ideal target for extensive research in the years to come.
The planet, dubbed HD 219134b, orbits its host star just 21 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. The find comes just one week after NASA announced the discovery of the first Earth-sized planet found to orbit a star similar to the sun. [Read more: NASA Discovers First Earth-Sized Planet Orbiting Sun-Like Star]
“Transiting exoplanets are worth their weight in gold because they can be extensively characterized,” Michael Werner, project scientist for the Spitzer mission said in a statement. “This exoplanet will be one of the most studied for decades to come.”
The planet has a mass 4.5 times that of Earth’s and is approximately 60% larger, putting it in a class of exoplanets — a term for planets that orbit a star, stellar remnant or brown dwarf beyond the solar system — known as “super Earths.”
The planet orbits too close to its parent star to be habitable, however, ...