What you need to know about the new 'Super Earth'

Bone-crushingly cold Super Earth discovered orbiting nearby star

What's going on: Scientists have discovered a new planet - called Super Earth - that is much bigger and colder than our world but has some of the same characteristics as our planet, according to a new study published Wednesday.

The team's results appear online in the November 14, 2018 issue of the journal Nature. The data included Barnard's star's radial velocity and relative speed toward and away from Earth. The other planet is in the Proxima Centauri System.

Astronomers have hunted for a planet orbiting the red dwarf since the Sixties - and have now spotted a signal which suggests a planet orbiting the star. It is estimated that for this reason the average temperature on its surface is minus 150 to 170 degrees Celsius, so if the planet has water it will be in the form of ice rather than wet.

During the course of their study, Smithsonian notes, researchers found faint evidence of another planet, which would be Barnard's Star c.

A planet, named Barnard's Star B, was found in the constellation Ophiucus, around Barnard's Star about 6 light-years from Earth (a light-year equals 5.9 trillion miles).

Barnard's star, because of proximity to Earth, is one of the most studied areas within the Milky Way Galaxy.

"After a very careful analysis, we are 99% confident that the planet is there", said lead scientist Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia and the Institute of Space Sciences in a statement "however, we'll continue to observe this fast-moving star to exclude possible, but improbable, natural variations of the stellar brightness which could masquerade as a planet".

Located six light-years away from the Sun, Barnard's star is the second-closest star system to the Sun after the Alpha Centauri triple system; it is also the closest single star to the Sun.

Despite this, the exoplanet receives only two percent of the energy that our planet gets from the Sun: this difference is due to the fact that Barnard's star (like Proxima Centauri) is a red dwarf (in comparison with such stars, like our Sun, red dwarfs are relatively small and cold lights). The researchers re-examined archive data obtained over a 20-year period, and added new observations with the latest generation of instruments.

Is this planet really, though?

"However, we must remain cautious and collect more data to nail the case in the future".

The team used the method called radial velocity, which uses the Doppler shifts of a star's light to measure the tug of a nearby planet.

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