CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (February 6, 2013)—The closest Earth-like planet may be just 13 light years away, although it hasn't actually been found yet, astronomers announced Wednesday.
The astronomers said the planet should be there, however, based on a study of red dwarf stars.
Small, cool red dwarfs are the most common stars in the galaxy, numbering 75 billion and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics team estimates 6 percent of the red dwarf stars have Earth-like planets.
To qualify, the planet must be roughly the size of Earth and must get as much light from its star as Earth does from the sun.
This high rate of occurrence should simplify the search for extraterrestrial life, astronomers
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