Habitable Planets May Not Be as Far Away as First Thought
New research has shown that earth-like planets may not be as far away as previously thought. Prior research had indicated that the ‘habitable zone’ where water is capable of existing, was around 300-600 light years away, but it is now believed that they may be as near as 13 light-years away.
The researchers based their calculations on planets already discovered by the U.S. Kepler telescope, and examined the question of which ‘red dwarf’ stars could have potentially habitable Earth-size planets in their orbits.
The telescope identified 95 planetary candidates orbiting red dwarf stars, which are the most commonly found stars in the Milky Way. Out of this selection, many were rejected due to their size or temperature which would rule out their ability to support life. However, three planets were identified which were both warm and approximately Earth-size.
The scientists have predicted that around 6% of the estimated 75 billion red dwarf stars should have an Earth-like planet and that the nearest one may only be just 13 light-years away.
The implication is that it may be much easier to find life beyond our solar system than previously thought.
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