100 super earths within 30 light years
DrMarty | March 29, 2012 at 01:00 amby
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A survey of red dwarf stars in the Milky Way found nine super-Earths -- and two in the 'habitable zone' where liquid water could exist.
Red dwarf stars account for 80% of the 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way -- and the scientists now believe that 40% of those might have a planet in the habitable zone. Where there is water, there could be life -- although being in the habitable zone is no guarantee that life has evolved on a planet.
Dr Xavier Bonfils, from Grenoble University in France, who led the international team, said: "Because red dwarfs are so common -- there are about 160 billion of them in the Milky Way -- this leads us to the astonishing result that there are tens of billions of these planets in our galaxy alone."
The astronomers surveyed a carefully chosen sample of 102 red dwarfs, using the European Southern Observatory's 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla, Chile. A total of nine super-Earths -- planets with masses between one and 10 times that of Earth -- were found.
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