An­other nearby planet found that may be just right for life

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - OPINION -

As­tronomers have found yet an­other planet that seems to have just the right Goldilocks com­bi­na­tion for life: Not so hot and not so cold. It’s not so far away, ei­ther.

This new, big, dense planet is rocky, like Earth, and has the right tem­per­a­tures for wa­ter, putting it in the hab­it­able zone for life, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished Wed­nes­day in the jour­nal Na­ture.

It’s the fifth such life-pos­si­ble planet out­side our so­lar sys­tem re­vealed in less than a year, but still rel­a­tively nearby Earth. Rocky plan­ets within that hab­it­able zone of a star are con­sid­ered the best place to find ev­i­dence of some form of life.

The first planet out­side our so­lar sys­tem was dis­cov­ered in 1995, but thanks to new tech­niques and es­pe­cially NASA’s planet-hunt­ing Ke­pler tele­scope, the num­ber of them has ex­ploded in re­cent years. As­tronomers have iden­ti­fied 52 po­ten­tially hab­it­able plan­ets and more than 3,600 plan­ets out­side our so­lar sys­tem.

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