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Source: Nasa

Astronomers Discover Nearby Earth-Like Planet--And Our Fingers Are Crossed

By Dennis Matthew Livesey

A group of scientists working out of the European Southern Observatory in Chile have discovered a new planetary neighbor, Ross 128 b. Only 11 light years away from Earth, Ross 128 b isn't the closest exoplanet, but it might be the most promising candidate for alien life. 

Source: ESO/M. Kornmesser

With any newly discovered exoplanet scientists determine its viability for life based on the circumstellar habitable zone, other wise known as the "Goldilocks Zone." If a planet orbits its parent star too closely or too distantly it can't meet the conditions for life. For liquid water and atmosphere to exist the planet has to be in the orbital sweet spot, where that spot it depends on the star. 

For Ross 128 b that sweet spot is about 4.5 million miles. It's a much closer habitable distance than the 93 million miles between Earth and our Sun because Ross' parent star is a red dwarf.