(CBS Local) — Citizen scientists have discovered a distant exoplanet that’s believed to be roughly twice the size of Earth, located 226 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus.
The new world, known as K2-288Bb, was spotted by a team of astronomers analyzing data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope. It remains unclear whether the alien world is rocky like Earth or a gas-rich like Neptune. But its magnitude is rare among exoplanets.
“It’s a very exciting discovery due to how it was found, its temperate orbit and because planets of this size seem to be relatively uncommon,” Adina Feinstein, a University of Chicago graduate student who aided the discovery of K2-288Bb, said in a statement.
Feinstein presented the find Monday at the American Astronomical Society’s winter meeting in Seattle.
The exoplanet lies in a stellar system known as K2-288, which contains a pair of dim, cool M-type stars separated by about 5.1 billion miles, according to a statement from NASA. The new planet orbits the smaller, dimmer star every 31.3 days.
Data also suggests that K2-288Bb is located within its star’s habitable zone, which means the planet may have liquid water on its surface.