Updated: 26th April 2018

Alien planet with Earth’s mass discovered … but it’s an ‘iceball’

A newfound alien world is quite Earth-like in some ways, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

The exoplanet, known as OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb, is about as massive as Earth and orbits its star at about the same distance Earth circles the sun. But OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb’s parent star is tiny and dim, meaning the alien planet is likely far too cold to host life, its discoverers said.

OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb is not in Earth’s neck of the cosmic woods; the alien world lies nearly 13,000 light-years away. The astronomers spotted it using a technique called gravitational microlensing, which involves watching what happens when a massive body passes in front of a star. The closer object’s gravity bends and magnifies the background star’s light, acting like a lens. [7 Ways to Discover Alien Planets]

In many cases, the foreground object is a star as well. If this star has orbiting planets, their existence can be inferred based on their influence on the background star’s light curve. And that’s indeed what happened with OGLE-2016-BLG-1195Lb.

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