(Trent Schindler, National Science Foundation)
Researchers announced Monday that they have discovered a planet that may be Earth-like orbiting a star that’s nearby, at least in cosmic terms.
The announcement was made at the National Science Foundation outside of Washington, D.C.
The planet's estimated radius is about twice that of Earth's.
It orbits the star Gliese 876, located 15 light years away from Earth in the direction of the constellation Aquarius.
"This is the smallest extra-solar planet yet detected and the first of a new class of rocky terrestrial planets," said team member Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "It's like Earth's bigger cousin."
The planet is too hot for life, as we know it however.
The surface temperature on the planet is estimated at between 400 and 750 degrees Fahrenheit.
"We keep pushing the limits of what we can detect, and we're getting closer and closer to finding Earths," said team member Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz.