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Habitable Earth Sized Planets Common, Research Suggests

(Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In a positive boost to the hunt for extraterrestrial life, it seems as though potentially habitable, Earth sized planets may be much more common than originally thought, according to a new study.

In the sunlike starts observed by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, approximately 1 in 5 had a planet orbiting in the ‘habitable zone’, where the temperature could support liquid water, and potentially life. If these new results apply to other areas of the galaxy, then the closest habitable planet can be a mere 12 light years away.

“Human beings have been looking at the stars for thousands of years,” said study researcher Erik Petigura, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). “How many of those stars have planets that are in some way like Earth? We’re very excited today to start to answer that question,” Petigura told

The new research has been detailed today in the Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences. For the entire article, jump over to LiveScience here.