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Newly-found exoplanet could support life: scientists

(Xinhua)

15:46, September 13, 2011

BEIJING, Sept. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Scientists on Monday announced they have found a planet that could potentially support life.

Astronomers identified 1,781 planet "candidates" as they peer at a patch of sky covering more than 156,000 stars, in the constellation Cygnus.

Among these, one planet was found in the "Goldilocks zone" - an area which is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water, the essential factor for Earth-like life.

The planet about 36 light-years away from solar system has 3.6 times the mass of Earth, with an estimated temperature ranging from 30 to 50 Celsius, scientist said.

And its star, dubbed HD85512, can be seen in the southern sky in the constellation Vela.

"If we are really, really lucky, this planet could be a habitat" like Earth, said Lisa Kaltenegger of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.

Astronomers have previously discovered 564 confirmed alien planets, with roughly 1,200 additional candidate worlds under investigation, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


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