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New Super-Earths detected in nearby stars habitable zone
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New Super-Earths detected in nearby star's habitable zone (Image 2)

November 19, 2013
An artist's impression of one of several planet candidates around a star known as Gliese 667C based on the most likely climate models for Earth and Super-Earth mass planets around red-dwarf stars. Pictured here is an almost completely frozen water world. Only a giant water lake remains liquid at the substellar point. New observations of a star known as Gliese 667C by a team of National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported researchers have revealed a system with at least six planets, including a record-breaking three super-Earths orbiting in the star's "habitable zone." Super-Earths are planets more massive than the Earth, but less massive than planets like Uranus or Neptune, and are within their stars habitable zone--not too hot and not too cold--a thin shell around a star in which water may be present in liquid form if conditions are right. This is the first planetary system found to have a fully packed habitable zone. The team combined new observations from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii and other telescopes with extensive data collected previously by the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher at the European Southern Observatory's 3.6-meter telescope in Chile. [Research supported by NSF grant AST 03-07493.] (Date of Image: June 24, 2013) Credit: René Heller, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, Germany