Closest planet found outside solar system
An illustration of what the newly discovered planet near Alpha Centauri B could look like.
October 17th, 2012
01:15 PM ET

Closest planet found outside solar system

The hunt for planets like our own has come up with a striking discovery: There’s a planet about the same size as Earth in the nearby Alpha Centauri system, and it's the closest planet found outside our solar system.

“Close,” of course, is a relative term. No one’s getting there anytime soon: The newly found planet, which orbits a star called Alpha Centauri B, is about 4 light-years, or 23.5 trillion miles, away.

Based on its mass, the planet is a rocky world and not gaseous, said Xavier Dumusque of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland. He and his colleagues published the findings in the journal Nature.

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