Earth-Like Planet Found With Optimal Conditions for Life—but Does It Exist?

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Nov. 8 2012 4:20 PM

Earth-Like Planet Found With Optimal Conditions for Life—but Does It Exist?

The search for Earth's doppelgänger may have turned up its best candidate yet. Scientists believe they have spotted a planet just 42 light years away orbiting its host star in the "Goldilocks Zone"—a swath of space where conditions are "just right" for liquid  water to exist on an orbiting planet. That, of course, vastly increases the possibility of life as we know it.

Discovered just three weeks after another Super Earth, the new find is about seven times Earth's mass, with a similar 320-day orbit. Even more intriguing is that so-called HD 40307g may rotate like Earth, evenly warming the exoplanet, another plus for life.

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That is, if HD 40307g actually exists. The technique used to detect it is new, and this is the first exoplanet found with it, suggesting the need for more study. Still, the search for exoplanets resembling our home turf continues, and confidence grows as we look for the precious signs of life beyond our own cosmic shores.

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