A SUPER-EARTH with the credentials to support alien life forms has been discovered just outside our solar system.
Hot on the heels of Earth 2 – another planet discovered this summer which has the potential to harbour life – Wolf 1061c is the closest planet outside our solar system which could hold alien life.
Dubbed Earth 3, it is more than four times the mass of Earth. The large planet is still small enough to be rocky with a solid surface, but a year there lasts just 18 days.
It also orbits the Red Dwarf sun within the “Goldilocks zone” meaning its temperature would be just right to hold liquid water so life could potentially develop within its oceans if it has any.
In July NASA held a historic press conference revealing it had founder a “second Earth” using the Kepler telescope.
Lead study author Dr Duncan Wright of the University of New South Wales (UNSW), said: “It is a particularly exciting find because all three planets (b, c and d) are of low enough mass to be potentially rocky and have a solid surface.
“The middle planet, Wolf 1061c, sits within the ‘Goldilocks’ zone where it might be possible for liquid water – and maybe even life – to exist.
“It is fascinating to look out at the vastness of space and think a star so very close to us – a near neighbour – could host a habitable planet.”
There have been a number of other planets found orbiting stars that are closer to us than Wolf 1061c, but they were not rocky and in the Goldilocks zone, meaning the chances of any life were remote at best.
But there are differences to our solar system as Wolf 1061 is a smaller and cooler star than our sun.
The orbits for the planets are also much shorter with b, c and d going around the star in 4.9 days, 17.9 days and 67.2 days respectively.
Their masses are at least 1.4, 4.3 and 5.2 times that of Earth, respectively.