'Super-Earths' Course Coincides with New Exoplanet Discovery


An artist’s impression of the newly-discovered rocky exoplanet, LHS 1140b

HarvardX has relaunched its popular online course Super-Earths and Life, and the timing couldn’t be better—scientists have just discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth orbiting a nearby star.

The newly-discovered super-Earth, identified by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has a diameter of 11,000 miles (about 40% larger than Earth) and a mass 6.6 times the mass of Earth, suggesting that it is dense and rocky. Located 40 light years away, the planet is close enough to be studied with next-generation telescopes to look for signs of life.

But, how exactly do we discover planets around other stars? What makes a planet favorable for life? And how do we search for life outside of our solar system? These questions and more are explored in HarvardX's free course Super-Earths and Life. Learners from around the world are invited to join Harvard astronomers and investigate how the fields of astronomy and biology can answer one of our most powerful and primal questions: are we alone in the universe?

To join the self-paced course and learn how we search for alien life, visit: Super-Earths and Life.