(Photo: J. Pinfield, for RoPACS / University of Hertfordshire.) Like a savvy real estate investor who’s always on the lookout for a potential purchase and a good bargain, astronomers are always looking to the stars for new planets – especially ones with desirable amenities, like the ability to support life.

In that department, there is some good news coming from nearby (in galactic terms) star HD 40307:

“…research to appear in Astronomy and Astrophysics,” reads an article on BBC.com, “has found three [planets] – among them a “super-Earth” seven times our planet’s mass, in the star’s habitable zone where liquid water can exist.”

Star HD 40307’s so-called super-Earth (officially HD 40307g) is only 42 light years away from our own planet.

Hugh Jones, a University of Hertfordshire astronomer and the study’s co-author, says at seven Earth masses, the newly discovered planet is likely hefty enough to have an atmosphere and far enough away from its star that it should rotate freely, giving it a proper night and day.

This “new” planet joins a growing list of more than 800 known exoplanets. The BBC suggests that it’s likely “only a matter of time before astronomers spot an ‘Earth 2.0’ – a rocky planet with an atmosphere circling a Sun-like star in the habitable zone.”

And once humans invent hyperspace travel, it will only be a matter of time before we’re buying up properties on new-Earth. We only hope a clever marketing team is put in charge of coming up with a more inventive name for that hypothetical planet than Earth 2.0, super-Earth, or HD 40307g.

Maybe George Lucas has some ideas. We understand he has more time on his hands these days…

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