A 'super-Earth' planet — an extrasolar planet larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune — has been detected in the habitable zone of a star called Gliese 832.

Robert Wittenmyer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and his colleagues used data from various telescopes to detect a planet with a mass of 5.4 Earths in orbit around this star. Although the planet is in the habitable zone — the region around a star in which it is thought that life could potentially exist — its large size suggests that it may have a thick atmosphere. This might make it more like a 'super-Venus', with a dense atmosphere leading to high surface temperatures that would render it inhospitable.

Despite this, the presence of this potentially rocky inner planet, as well as a previously discovered outer giant planet, makes the Gliese 832 system a rare miniature version of our Solar System, the authors suggest.

Astrophys. J. 791, 114 (2014)