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Distant world looks ripe for life

Planet hunt spots most Earthlike orb yet

By
7:11pm, December 5, 2011

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — One of the many worlds circling faraway suns is tracing a most Earthlike path: The planet Kepler-22b has a 290-day orbit that parks it firmly within its star’s life-friendly zone, scientists announced December 5 at the first Kepler Science Conference.

With a radius 2.4 times larger than Earth’s, Kepler-22b is the smallest planet confirmed to sit comfortably in a sunlike star’s “habitable zone,” or the zone around a star where temperatures allow liquid water to exist. Kepler-22b’s home star — shining 600 light-years away near the co

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