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Four in ten of nearby stars could harbor habitable planets

Posted on Wednesday, March 13 2013 @ 14:52:17 CET by

TG Daily writes a study by Penn State researcher Ravi Kopparapu found that four in ten, if not more, of nearby small stars may host habitable, Earth-sized planets.
"We now estimate that if we were to look at 10 of the nearest small stars we would find about four potentially habitable planets, give or take," he says. "That is a conservative estimate - there could be more."

There are good reasons for focusing on M-dwarfs, he says. Planets tend to have very short orbits around such stars, allowing scientists to gather a lot more data in a shorter period of time than is the case with sun-like stars, which have larger habitable zones. There are also a lot more of them.

And, says Kopparapu: "The average distance to the nearest potentially habitable planet is about seven light years. That is about half the distance of previous estimates."

"There are about eight cool stars within 10 light-years, so conservatively, we should expect to find about three Earth-size planets in the habitable zones."
Habitable planets around nearby suns



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