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Far Out

Newly discovered 'super-Earth' could possibly support life

A team of international scientists has discovered two new planets just 100 light years away, one of which may be suitable for life.

Both planets are known as "super-Earths," meaning they are up to ten times larger than Earth but lighter than other icy planets, CBS News reports. The two planets are LP 890-9b, which is about 30 percent larger than Earth and orbits its sun in just 2.7 days, and LP 890-9c (later renamed SPECULOOS-2c by researchers), which is 40 percent larger than Earth and takes 8.5 days to orbit its sun. 

The discovery comes from Belgium's University of Liège using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the university's own telescopes known as SPECULOOS (Search for Habitable Planets Eclipsing Ultra-Cool Stars). The findings will be published in Astronomy and Astrophysics, a scientific journal.

This second planet, LP 890-9c, has intrigued scientists. Francisco Pozuelos, a researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia and study co-author explained, "Although this planet orbits very close to its star, at a distance about 10 times shorter than that of Mercury around our sun, the amount of stellar irradiation it receives is still low, and could allow the presence of liquid water on the planet's surface, provided it has a sufficient atmosphere." This is because its sun, LP 890-9, is about 6.5 times smaller and is roughly half as cool as our sun.

Researchers plan to further study LP 890-9c's habitability, which could become the second most favorable planet to sustain life.