A set of super-Earths has been found orbiting one of our nearest stars, scientists say.
The planets could be among the best opportunities for finding life outside of our solar system, the researchers who discovered them say.
The system orbits around the star Gliese 887, the brightest red dwarf in the sky. That star is around 11 light years away.
Super-Earths like the newly found planets have a higher mass than the Earth but are much smaller than the ice giants of our solar system, Uranus and Neptune. They are a key target in the hunt for life on other worlds.
They found that the star appeared to be orbited by planets that have orbits that would give them years of just 9.3 and 21.8 days on Earth. That suggests the planets are moving very quickly around their star, faster even than Mercury.
Gliese 887 is also dimmer and smaller than our Sun, meaning that the planets could get much closer to the star while still being potentially habitable.
Compared to Earth, it only receives 2% of the amount of energy from its star that we get, which explains the expected cold temperatures of Barnard b. But the whole reason we think life on an Earth-sized world in a more temperature-friendly zone around a red dwarf star is no good is because a world like Proxima b receives far too much X-ray and ultraviolet radiation to even maintain an atmosphere, much less remain life-friendly.