A new planet found about 36 light-years away could be one of the most Earthlike worlds yet—if it has enough clouds, a new study says.
The unpoetically named HD85512b was discovered orbiting an orange dwarf star in the constellation Vela. Astronomers found the planet using the European Southern Observatory’s High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher, or HARPS, instrument in Chile.
Radial velocity is a planet-hunting technique that looks for wobbles in a star’s light, which can indicate the gravitational tugs of orbiting worlds.
The HARPS data show that the planet is 3.6 times the mass of Earth, and the new world orbits its parent star at just the right distance for water to be liquid on the planet’s surface—a trait scientists believe is crucial for life as we know it. Learn more here.