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Ultraviolet astronomy

Residents of the northern hemisphere, look up: In the faint light of the closest star in the night sky, astronomers have discovered evidence of an alien world.

The proposed new planet is unlike anything in our own solar system, the researchers say — larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune, and far enough from its dim, red sun that any water on its surface is locked away in ice.

But this frozen “super Earth,” the second-closest exoplanet known to science, is a tantalizing clue to what else might be out there. And in the not-so-distant someday when telescopes become capable of photographing planets around other stars, it may well be the first new world we see.

“We’re moving from science fiction to science reality,” said Carnegie astronomer Johanna Teske, who contributed to a study of the new planet published Wednesday in the journal Nature. “There’s so much possibility there.”