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A new ‘super-Earth’ has been discovered that could have a life-supporting climate and water. The planet, given the catchy name HD 40307g, was discovered in a multi-world solar system 42 light years from the Sun and lies at exactly the right distance from its star to allow liquid surface water. It orbits well within the star’s “habitable” or “Goldilocks” zone – the region where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold to sustain life. Professor Hugh Jones, from the University of Hertfordshire said: “The longer orbit of the new planet means that its climate and atmosphere may be just right to support life. Just as Goldilocks liked her porridge to be neither too hot nor too cold but just right, this planet or indeed any moons that is has lie in an orbit comparable to Earth, increasing the probability of it being habitable.” The ‘super earth’ is one of six planets believed to circle the dwarf star HD 40307 in the constellation Pictor. All the others are located outside the habitable zone, too close to their parent star to support liquid water.
Why is it thought that the planet may be able to support life?