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11 inspiring images of planets like Earth

By: Katherine Butler on Aug. 10, 2017, 3:08 p.m.
An illustration of two potentially habitable planets around Tau Ceti.

Photo: PHL @ UPR Arecibo

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Planets around Tau Ceti

The sun-like star Tau Ceti may be 12 light-years away from us, but ]this star is at the center of one of the closest and Earth-like solar systems. Circling around it are four planets, and according to a 2017 study, the two furthest from Tau Ceti might be habitable. Tau Ceti e and f are located just within Tau Ceti's habitable zone. They're also super-Earths, which means their mass is between 1.5 and 10 times greater than Earth, but it also means there's a chance for liquid waters on the surface.

The two planets were detected thanks to advances in measuring solar wobbles. "We are slowly learning to tell the difference between wobbles caused by planets and those caused by stellar active surface," co-author Mikko Tuomi said in a statement. "This enabled us to essentially verify the existence of the two outer, potentially habitable planets in the system."