Scientists discover three new planets

An impression of what the sky might look like from the exoplanet Gliese 667Cd

Scientists have discovered three new planets they say could carry water because of where they are in relation to their star.

The planets have been spotted surrounding a star called Gliese 667C, which is 22 light-years away.

Just as Earth is the right distance from our sun to support life, these three planets may also be the right distance from the star they orbit.

The star is less hot than our sun but the planets are close enough that their surface temperatures should be about the same as Earth's, which could mean they have water.

The team of astronomers from all over the world made the discovery by studying a set of data using powerful telescopes at the Silla Observatory in Chile.

One of the group's leaders Mikko Tuomi from the University of Hertfordshire in England said:

"Their orbital periods are 28, 39, and 62 days, which means that they all orbit the star closer to its surface than Mercury in our own system. Yet, the estimated surface temperatures enable the existence of liquid water on them because of the low luminosity and low mass of the star."

The team say the planets are likely to have a rocky surface, but they have no way of knowing if there is life on the planets.

More on This Story

More Science & Environment stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

BBC Future

Knowing how to trigger an immune response may help beat cancer (SPL)

Can we make the body self-heal?

Lessons from baffling cancer 'miracles'


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach - why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.