An artist’s concept of GJ 1132b, a rocky exoplanet very similar to Earth in size and mass. It orbits a red dwarf star. At a distance of only 39 light-years, it will be a prime target for additional study with Hubble and future observatories like the Giant Magellan Telescope. Credit: MIT / NASA

Astronomers have discovered an exoplanet that in many ways are similar to Earth. The planet is also relatively close to us, by astronomical standards.

The extrasolar planet (exoplanet) is “only” 39 light years away. Close enough to be studied by ground-based telescopes on Earth.

The planet has been named GJ1132b and is slightly larger than Earth, but just as Earth, it consists of rock and iron.

Unlike Earth, though, this planet is exposed to 19 times the radiation from parent star compared to what we on Earth receive from our sun. The researchers, therefore, conclude that the planet is too hot for anything to live there.

But the planet could be cool enough to have an atmosphere, and the researchers are now looking forward to studying it.

Reference: Berta-Thompson et al: “A rocky planet transiting a nearby low-mass star“, Nature 2015. DOI: 10.1038 / nature15762.

MIT: New Earth-like exoplanet discovered