What's the Latest Development?
Astronomers at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, have discovered that the closest single star like our Sun may have an habitable planet in its orbit. The star, called Tau Ceti, is just twelve light years from Earth and is believed to have five planets surrounding it, all between two and six times the mass of planet Earth. "One of the planets lies in the habitable zone of the star and has a mass around five times that of Earth, making it the smallest planet found to be orbiting in the habitable zone of any Sun-like star." The technique used to find the planets is new and twice as sensitive as past methods.
What's the Big Idea?
Using new planet-hunting techniques, more than 800 foreign world have been discovered but those discoveries close to home are the most important, says Steve Vogt from University of California Santa Cruz: "This discovery is in keeping with our emerging view that virtually every star has planets, and that the galaxy must have many such potentially habitable Earth-sized planets. They are everywhere, even right next door! We are now beginning to understand that Nature seems to overwhelmingly prefer systems that have a multiple planets with orbits of less than one hundred days."
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