Planets around nearby star are intriguing candidates for extraterrestrial life

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Up to three planets – potentially rocky like Earth – have been spotted around a star located relatively near our solar system – a planetary system offering astronomers intriguing possibilities in the search for signs of extraterrestrial life.

The planets orbit Gliese 887, a so-called red dwarf star half the sun’s mass located 11 light years from Earth – right in our backyard in cosmic terms, researchers said on Friday. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km).

Only 12 other stars are closer to our solar system.

Two planets have been definitively identified, one orbiting Gliese 887 every nine days and the other every 21 days. One of these two is situated just inside what is called the habitable zone, or Goldilocks zone, around the star – not too hot and not too cold, perhaps able to maintain liquid water on the surface and harbor life.

A third potential planet orbiting every 50 days is located in the habitable zone, but still needs further confirmation. Read More


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