Combining their data with archival measurements of the star, spanning almost 20 years, Jeffers et al. detected the presence of at least two super-Earth sized planets, tightly circling the nearby red dwarf with orbital periods of 9.3 and 21.8 days. They might find if those worlds have life.
The astronomers observed the red dwarf using HARPS (High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher) spectrograph the European Southern Observatory in Chile.
The discovery was made by an global team, including those from the University of Hertfordshire, Open University and Queen Mary University of London. That said, measurements of Gliese 887c suggest a surface temperature of 158 degrees Fahrenheit or 70 degrees Celsius.
The planets are located near their star's habitable zone - an area where liquid water could exist. As a result, the habitable zone for planets is much closer to it than the distance of Earth from the sun.
Hence, the team are keen to learn more about this super-Earth system. Astronomers, led by Sandra Jeffers of the University of Gottingen in Germany, published a new study on these exoplanets in the journal Science.
'This means that as the planet orbits its star, the same hemisphere always faces the star, ' the lead author explained.
'This is why we are now unable to say that the third signal is actually a planet'.
Interestingly, the researchers also found another signal that could have come from another planet in the same system. The researchers also found evidence of a possible distant third planet.
If the star was as active as our Sun, it is likely that a strong stellar wind - outflowing material which can erode a planet's atmosphere - would simply sweep away the planets' atmospheres.
"The newly detected planets are the best possibilities of all the known planets in close proximity to the sun to see if they have atmospheres and to study these atmospheres in detail", he added. Additionally, the researchers also found that the brightness from the red dwarf star is nearly constant, making it easier for space telescopes to look for the atmospheres on the super-Earths. That's still too far to even begin to think about visiting with our current technology, but it's close enough that the next generation of high-powered telescopes - starting with the James Webb Space Telescope if it ever manages to get off the ground - could be capable of revealing more about the planets than scientists have ever known about any world outside of our solar neighborhood.