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Study suggests Earth-sized planets may be nearby
Posted: Thu, Feb 7, 2013, 6:34 AM ET (1134 GMT)
Earth-like world orbiting red dwarf illustration (CfA) A new study based on data from NASA's Kepler mission concludes that Earth-sized planets around red dwarf stars may be relatively common, suggesting such worlds could be relatively near our own. The work by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics researchers, announced Wednesday and published in the Astrophysical Journal, looked for potential planets orbiting red dwarf stars in the field observed by Kepler. Statistical analysis led astronomers to conclude that six percent of red dwarf stars have Earth-sized planets orbiting them. Since red dwarfs are the most common type of stars, constituting three quarters of the stars in our galaxy, astronomers said that Earth-sized planets should be relatively close to us, potentially within 13 light-years. Earth-sized planets would be easier to study orbiting red dwarfs, given the smaller, dimmer nature of those stars.
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