NASA has revealed on Thursday the discovery of a Super-Earth located very close to our planet. HD 219134b, the nearest known rocky exoplanet to Earth, is located just 21 light years away from us.

Scientists from the U.S. space agency confirmed the existence of the planet using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The exoplanet is 1.6 times bigger than Earth.

It also falls into the super-Earth category of planets given that it has mass that is greater compared with that of our planet and is lighter than gas giants such as Jupiter.

Scientists do not expect this extraterrestrial world to be home for alien life. It cannot sustain life because it orbits very close to its star.

Although HD 219134b cannot be directly seen even with telescopes, it orbits a star that is visible even to the naked eye. The star, a 5th magnitude K dwarf, is less massive compared with our sun but slightly colder. The star is also very bright it can be seen with naked eye from dark skies.

The planet is the nearest exoplanet to Earth that was detected while it crosses in front of its star making it a potential gold mine for research.

Only a few exoplanets can be detected transiting because of their relative orientation to Earth. Given the right orientation, the orbit of the planet dims the detectable light of its star, which is captured by observatories revealing not only the planet's size but also hints about its composition.

"Transiting exoplanets are worth their weight in gold because they can be extensively characterized," said Spitzer mission project scientist Michael Werner, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "This exoplanet will be one of the most studied for decades to come."

The exoplanet was first discovered using the Italian Galileo National Telescope in Canary Islands but Spitzer has used infrared measurements that allowed researchers to discover the size of the exoplanet as well as confirm that it has a rocky terrain.

"The idea was to check for a potential transit of the planet in front of the star, a mini eclipse, that would allow us to measure the size of the planet," explained Ati Motalebi, from University of Geneva.

The newly discovered planet also shared the same star system with three other planets albeit they are farther than HD 219134b.Two of these are relatively small and located not very far from their parent star.

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