Three new planets discovered by University of Hertfordshire scientists

PUBLISHED: 09:08 07 July 2013 | UPDATED: 09:08 07 July 2013

This artist’s impression shows the view from the exoplanet Gliese 667Cd looking towards the planet’s parent star (Gliese 667C). In the background to the right the more distant stars in this triple system (Gliese 667A and Gliese 667B) are visible and to the left in the sky one of the other planets, the newly discovered Gliese 667Ce, can be seen as a crescent.   Copyright ESO/M. Kornmesser

This artist's impression shows the view from the exoplanet Gliese 667Cd looking towards the planet's parent star (Gliese 667C). In the background to the right the more distant stars in this triple system (Gliese 667A and Gliese 667B) are visible and to the left in the sky one of the other planets, the newly discovered Gliese 667Ce, can be seen as a crescent. Copyright ESO/M. Kornmesser

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SCIENTISTS from Hertfordshire have helped find three new 'super-earth' planets which could contain life.

Dr Mikko Tuomi, an astronomer from the University of Hertfordshire, and Professor Hugh Jones, were part of a team of international astronomers who made the discovery.

They took new observations of a star called Gliese 667c and combined it with existing data to reveal it is orbited by at least six planets.

Three of these have been confirmed to be ‘super-earths’, planets bigger than Earth but smaller than Uranus or Neptune, which are within the star’s habitable zone.

This is a thin band around the star where liquid water could exist.

This is the first time that three such planets have been spotted orbiting in this zone in the same system.

Dr Tuomi said: “We knew that the star had three planets from previous studies, so we wanted to see whether there were any more.

“By adding some new observations and revisiting existing data we were able to confirm these three and confidently reveal several more.

“Finding three low-mass planets in the star’s habitable zone is very exciting.”

Gliese 667c is found in the constellation of Scorpios about 22 light-years away.

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