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Distant world could support life

Extrasolar planet has right conditions to be habitable

11:25pm, September 29, 2010

Scientists have spotted an Earth doppelgänger that may have the right specs to harbor life, in the Libra constellation just 20 light-years distant.

Although details about conditions on the planet’s surface remain a mystery, the find suggests that many more potentially habitable planets are likely to be found. The discovery is reported online September 29 at arXiv.org and will be described in an upcoming Astrophysical Journal.

Finding the planet so nearby and so soon after beginning the hunt for Earthlike worlds beyond the solar system suggests that the galaxy is teeming with them, said coauthor Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. He noted that it has been only 15 years since astronomers first discovered any planets orbiting sunlike stars beyond the solar system.

“This is the first one, but the threshold has now been crossed,” Butler said in a September 29 press briefing. “Over the next 1

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