Of course, the most interesting planets (mostly) are the ones that fall into their star's habitable zone, and this app has a nice graphic feature that superimposes a green area over the map of the solar system in question to denote the habitable zone, and also compares it to the orbits of the planets in our solar system. I'll start by posting the most recent announcement that came through and will go back and fill in prior announcements as time goes on. Everyone else, of course, should chime in with their own news.
Oh, one recent ultra-cool discovery that doesn't fall into the potentially life-bearing category was the planet discovered at Alpha Centauri B. If you haven't heard of it, it is not only orbiting our nearest stellar neighbor, but it is also the smallest extra-solar planet found to date, at about 1.13 Earth masses. Sadly, it is in a very tight orbit, closer than Mercury, and so is not a likely candidate for life. But, still-- Alpha Centauri!
So, the news I will post today concerns the star Gliese 163, which is 48.9 light years away and has a stellar mass of .40 of our sun, which means that its habitable zone is very close. Two super Earths have been discovered, Gliese 163 b, which is 11.10 Earth masses and has a year of 8.63 days and Gliese 163 c, which is 6.90 Earth masses and has a year of 25.63 days. The outer edge of the habitable zone is about at the Mercury orbit. The b planet is way inside the inner edge of the zone, but c is right at the edge, and has a slightly eccentric orbit that takes it from barely there to comfortably inside. Radius, density and surface gravity info are not available (they seldom are).
This is how the app describes the planet:
Sounds like a good prospect, unless it has succumbed to a runaway greenhouse effect.
More to come....