Skip to Content
Space

Two Earth-size planets have been discovered in a neighboring solar system

Teegarden's Star and surrounding planets
Teegarden's Star and surrounding planetsThe University of Göttingen

They’re located in the “habitable zone,” where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface.

The news: Researchers at the University of Göttingen have been studying a star known as “Teegarden’s star” for the last three years. They found two planets orbiting it that seem to bear some similarities to Earth, orbiting in a region where it’s possible there could be liquid water. Their findings are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics this week.

The star: It’s so faint it wasn’t spotted until 2003. It’s one of our closest stars (a mere 12.5 light-years away) and it’s an “M dwarf,” about half as warm as the sun and a tenth as big. That means potentially habitable planets would have to be closer to it than those in our own solar system, and thus orbit more quickly. The two new planets were spotted using the CARMENES instrument on a telescope in Spain. It looks for how an exoplanet’s gravitational pull periodically affects a star’s light.

Could they host alien life? The fact the planets bear similarities to our own lump of rock is obviously fascinating. However, there’s no way to know what their atmosphere is like—and so if there could be any life there—until we have more powerful telescopes. “Both Teegarden’s planets are potentially habitable,“ Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia told National Geographic. “We will eventually see if they are actually habitable and, perhaps, even inhabited.”

Want to keep up to date with space tech news? Sign up for our space newsletter, The Airlock.

Deep Dive

Space

How the James Webb Space Telescope broke the universe

Scientists were in awe of the flood of data that arrived when the new space observatory booted up.

NASA’s return to the moon is off to a rocky start

Artemis aims to deliver astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2025, but it’s riding on an old congressional pet project.

James Webb Space Telescope: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

A marvel of precision engineering, JWST could revolutionize our view of the early universe.

What’s next in space

The moon, private space travel, and the wider solar system will all have major missions over the next 12 months.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.