An international team of scientists has discovered at least one new habitable planet – and, considering the vastness of space, this planet is fairly close.
A planet with conditions that can sustain life was one of five orbiting a star neighboring the sun, astronomers from the United Kingdom, USA, Chile and Australia recently revealed in an official statement. The star, called Tau Ceti, was located 12 light years away.
In an interview with ABCNews.com, Steven Vogt, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said he believed there actually might be two planets in the Tau Ceti system with “conditions conducive to life” – though the official announcement described just one.
“In order for a planet to be inhabitable, it should lie in a zone that is neither too hot nor too cold to allow for liquid surface water and, potentially, life,” said Vogt, who was part of the international team that made the discovery.
A planet with a mass approximately five times that of Earth was the smallest planet found to be orbiting in the habitable zone of any Sun-like star, said a statement issued by the team of researchers.
The findings came after almost 14 years of gathering data from more than 6,000 observations from three different telescopes located in Chile, Australia and Hawaii.
“What is unique about this star is it’s amazingly nearby – that you can actually see it with the naked eye,” said Vogt. “There are nearly 18 stars that are this close to us. This is the 19th closest star, and that is why it is special.”
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