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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

5 Potentially Earth-Like Planets Nearby

A possibly Earth-like planet has been found within the habitable zone of humanity's closest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri, and astronomers think the world could potentially support life.

While there is still a lot to learn about this newfound world, called Proxima Centauri b or just Proxima b, astronomers are sure of a few things: The Earth-like rocky exoplanet is 4.2 light-years away; its minimum mass is 1.3 times that of the Earth, and it orbits Proxima Centauri every 11.2 days.

Astronomers also said that Proxima b lies within the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri, which means the planet orbits a safe distance from the star, making it neither too hot or too cold. Because of this, astronomers said that Proxima b may have suitable surface temperature that would allow for the presence of liquid water, meaning the exoplanet could support some sort of life.

"We know very little about these [types of] planets," Thomas Barclay, senior research scientist and director of the Kepler and K2 missions, told Space.com. NASA's orbiting Kepler Space Telescope has identified more than 2,000 confirmed planets around other stars based on changes in the stars' brightness. "For some of them, we know an approximate mass or an approximate radius, and we know roughly how far they are from their star — but that's really all we know."

With the discovery of Proxima b, here are five other potentially Earth-like planets that astronomers have previously found in Earth's interstellar neighborhood...

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