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Earth-like planet found

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Ross 128b
Space   Ross 128b

A newly discovered Earth-sized planet with a similar temperature and a stable parent star may be the closest potentially habitable world, according to astronomers.

The planet, Ross 128b circles a small, dim star called a red dwarf just 11 light-years away from Earth. The "quiet" red dwarf star, Ross 128, sits in the constellation of Virgo, the virgin.

Astronomers found Ross 128b using the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) instrument at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla site in Chile.

The closest Earth-like planet is Proxima b, which circles the red dwarf called Proxima Centauri and is just 4.25 light-years away. However, Proxima Centauri, at about five billion years old, is still a young, fast-spinning star that emits powerful stellar flares at nearby planets.

Ross 128, the host star of Ross 128b, is a more mature seven billion years old and its rotation has slowed considerably. Ross 128b is twenty times closer to its parent star than our Earth is to the sun, and it spins around its red dwarf star once every 9.9 days.

However, Ross 128b gets less radiation than Earth. Scientists believe it has a temperature between -60°C and 20°C.

While it is currently 11 light-years away from Earth, Ross 128 is rapidly moving towards our solar system and is expected to become our nearest stellar neighbor in "just" 79,000 years.

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