In a surprise find, astronomers have discovered a planet possibly covered with oceans of magma “right around the corner.”
Even more exciting to scientists is its size: about the same as Mars’s, which would make the new world the closest known planet smaller than Earth.
Astronomers discovered the newfound alien planet, known as UCF-1.01, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The diminutive world is just 33 light-years away, making it a near neighbor of Earth in the cosmic scheme of things.
Large planets are easier to find, but they’re generally gas giants that don’t have a rocky surface or an atmosphere like Earth’s. So scientists are scanning the skies for smaller worlds, which should be more likely to support life as we know it. Learn more here or here.