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Earth-sized planet found just outside solar system

By Seth Borenstein

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 16 2012 3:45 p.m. MDT

This artist’s impression made available by the European Southern Observatory on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012 shows a planet, right, orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, center, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth. Alpha Centauri A is at left. The Earth's Sun is visible at upper right. Searching across the galaxy for interesting alien worlds, scientists made a surprising discovery: a planet remarkably similar to Earth in a solar system right next door. Other Earth-like planets have been found before, but this one is far closer than previous discoveries. Unfortunately, the planet is way too hot for life, and it’s still 25 trillion miles away.

ESO, L. Calcada, Associated Press

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WASHINGTON — Astronomers say that just outside our solar system they've found a planet that's the closest you can get to Earth in location and size.

It is the type of planet they've been searching for across the Milky Way galaxy and they found it circling a star right next door — 25 trillion miles away. But the Earth-like planet is so hot its surface may be like molten lava.

The team of European astronomers who found it say it's likely there are other planets circling the same star. And those planets could fit the not-too-hot, not-too-cold description that astronomers sometimes call the Goldilocks Zone.

The star system is Alpha Centauri B. The research was released online Tuesday in the journal Nature.

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