from the but-not-as-we-know-it dept.
Adam Korbitz writes "New Scientist is reporting the extrasolar planet MOA-2007-BLG-192Lb — whose discovery was announced just last summer — may actually be the first truly Earth-sized exoplanet to be identified. A new analysis suggests the planet weighs less than half the original estimate of 3.3 Earth masses; the new estimate pegs the planet's size at 1.4 Earth masses. The planet orbits a small red dwarf star, some 3,000 light-years from here, at an orbital distance of 0.62 astronomical units, about the same distance as Venus from our sun. One significance of the planet's discovery is that it points to the probable ubiquity of smaller terrestrial planets in somewhat Earth-like orbits around red dwarf stars, the oldest and most numerous stars in the galaxy. Here is a video report from the discoverers."
The Bad Astronomer writes "Astronomers in Europe have announced the discovery of a planet with only 5 times the Earth's mass, orbiting a red dwarf star 20 light years away. It orbits the star so closely that it only takes 13 days to go around... but the star is so cool that the temperature of the planet is between 0 and 40 Celsius. At this temperature there could be liquid water. Models indicate the planet is either rocky like the Earth or covered in an ocean. While it's not known if there actually is liquid water on the planet, this is a really big discovery, and indicates that we are getting ever closer to finding another Earth orbiting an alien star."