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Super-Earth may reveal secrets of alien air

LHS 1140
An artist’s impression shows a super-Earth passing across the disk of the faint red star known as LHS 1140. (CfA Illustration / M. Weiss)

It’s not the closest potentially habitable planet, but astronomers say a world 40 percent wider than Earth could be one of the best places to target in the search for life beyond our solar system.

“This is the most exciting exoplanet I’ve seen in the past decade. We could hardly hope for a better target to perform one of the biggest quests in science – searching for evidence of life beyond Earth,” Jason Dittmann, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said today in a news release.

Dittmann is the lead author of a paper published by the journal Nature describing the exoplanet, known as LHS 1140 b.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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