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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

One In Five Sun-Like Stars Have Earth-Like Planets

•, By Lindsay Krtochwill
 Back in February, a team at Harvard announced they had found a possible Earth-like planet just 13 lightyears away. The study detailed the prevalence of these planets orbiting red dwarf stars and found that about 15 percent have Earth-size planets within habitable zones. However, if you're stargazing from your backyard with only your eyes to guide you, you wouldn't be able to see these cooler, smaller stars. Red dwarfs are one-third the size and one-thousandth as bright as the sun.

But in this week's PNAS Online Early Edition, a team of researchers from University of California at Berkeley released a study that looks at how common Earth-size planets are around stars that are more like our sun.

The study found that for stars that more closely resemble our sun, about 22 percent, or about one in five stars, have these Earth-size planets within the habitable zone. The habitable zone includes orbits where planets receive the same amount of stellar energy from a star as the Earth receives from the sun. Earth-size planets include those that are between one and two times the size of Earth. Perhaps the most exciting prospect of the study is the finding that the closest potential Earth-like planet is only 12 lightyears away.

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