Space.com is reporting that 50 new alien planets - including one "Super" Earth that could support life, has been discovered by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
Sixteen worlds fall into the "Super" Earths category including one specific world in orbit of HD 85512 b. A star in the southern constellation of Vela (the Sail). This world is estimated to be about 3.6 Earth masses and is in the outermost region of the habitable zone of HD 85512 b.
Observations were made with the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher instrument, or HARPS. The HARPS spectrograph is part of ESO's 11.8-foot (3.6-meter) telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.
Quote: "This is the lowest-mass confirmed planet discovered by the radial velocity method that potentially lies in the habitable zone of its star, and the second low-mass planet discovered by HARPS inside the habitable zone,” said exoplanet habitability expert Lisa Kaltenegger, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany and Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Boston.
"I think we're in for an incredibly exciting time," Kaltenegger told reporters in a briefing today (Sept. 12). "We're not just going out there to discover new continents — we're actually going out there to discover brand new worlds." end quote.
Total confirmed extra solar planets discovered so far is now 564 alien worlds.
1. Space.com. "'Super-Earth,' 1 of 50 Newfound Alien Planets, Could Potentially Support Life" by Denise Chow. September 12, 2011. ( http://www.space.com/12915-habitable-alien-planet-hd-85512b-super-earth.html ). image from same article on Space.com.