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Red dwarf stars may host billions of habitable planets
Posted: Fri, Mar 30, 2012, 7:18 AM ET (1118 GMT)
Gliese 667Cc illustration (ESO) Astronomers studying a sampling of red dwarf stars have concluded that these stars may collectively have billions of rocky planets in their habitable zones. European astronomers analyzed over 100 M dwarf stars using an advanced spectrograph at the European Southern Observatory. They found nine super-Earths, with masses one to ten times that of the Earth, orbiting these stars; two of the planets had orbits within the stars' habitable zones, where liquid water could exist on planetary surfaces. This frequency led astronomers to conclude that there are about 100 super-Earths in the habitable zones of red dwarf stars within 10 parsecs of Earth. Extended galaxy-wide, astronomers argued that there could be tens of billions of such planets in the Milky Way.
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