Artist’s impression of a sunset from the super-Earth Gliese 667Cc courtesy ESO/L. Calçada. The large sun is the red dwarf, 667C.

Astronomer discovers three potentially habitable planets orbiting around one red dwarf

George Dvorsky
DEC 18, 2012 9:00 AM

Canadian astronomer Philip Gregory has confirmed that there are three habitable zone planets orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 667C. The star, which is part of a trinary star system, is only 22 light-years away and it features a planet that’s only twice the mass of Earth — making it the lowest mass planet found in a habitable zone thus far.

New results with old data

Astronomers have known about the Gliese 667 system for some time — including the fact that it features some interesting exoplanets. But now, armed with new telescopic techniques, scientists have been able to study the triple star system in much greater detail.

Specifically, Gregory re-analyzed data acquired by the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher, HARPS, which is part of the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6 metre telescope in Chile. But this time he performed a Bayesian analysis based on a fusion Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm — a system that allowed him to sample probability distributions.

Looking at the new results, he confirmed the presence of at least six planets, including the three potentially habitable ones.

Read more: Astronomer discovers three potentially habitable planets orbiting around one red dwarf — io9.

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