Astronomers have discovered a super-Earth exoplanet exoplanet nearby that may be able to sustain life as we know it.
An international group of astronomers discovered the planet using NASA's extrasolar planet (TESS) earlier this year in the Hydra constellation, about 31 light-years from Earth, according to NASA. (One light year is the distance that light travels in one year, about 6 trillion miles or 10 trillion kilometers.)
The exoplanet called GJ 357 d is thought to be about twice the size of Earth and port six times Earth mass. Located at the outer edge of the "habitable zone of the receiving star", scientists believe that this super-Earth may have water on its surface.
"If the planet has a dense atmosphere that will require future exploration to determine, it may capture enough heat to warm the planet and allow liquid water to surface, "said Diana Kosakowski, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, and co-author of a recent study.
The potentially habitable planet and two neighboring worlds were discovered in orbit around a dwarf star, about one-third the size and mass of our own sun and 40% cooler. TESS noticed that the light coming from this little star dims slightly every 3.9 days – an indication that the exoplanet can pass through its face.
This world is GJ 357 b, the "hot earth" that orbits around Eleven times closer to its host star than Mercury does to the sun, and probably has a surface temperature of about 490 degrees Fahrenheit (254 degrees Celsius).
But GJ 357 b is a possibly habitable neighboring planet soon stealing the show. Further observations show that the GJ 357 d orbits its star every 55.7 days at a distance of about one fifth of the Earth's distance from the sun and may have similar Earth conditions, according to a statement by Cornell University . .  "We created the first models of what this new world could be like," said Jack Madden, a PhD candidate at Cornell and co-author of the study, in a statement. "Just knowing that liquid water can exist on the surface of this planet motivates scientists to find ways to find signs of life."
The other planet in the system, GJ 357 c, is at least 3.4 times more massive than Earth and orbits the star every 9.1 days. The GJ 357 c probably has a surface temperature of about 260 Fahrenheit (127 C), NASA officials said.
The team hopes to soon be able to look for signs of exoplanet life with future telescopes.
The study was published on July 31 in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics .