Are We Alone in the Universe?

Huge excitement. Two Earth-size planets found orbiting a sun-like star less than 1,000 light-years away. This comes two weeks after the stunning announcement of another planet orbiting another star at precisely the right distance — within the so-called “habitable zone” that is not too hot and not too cold — to allow for liquid water and therefore possible life.

Unfortunately, the planets of the right size are too close to their sun, and thus too scorching hot, to permit Earth-like life. And the Goldilocks planet in the habitable zone is too large. At 2.4 times the size of Earth, it is likely gaseous, like Jupiter. No earthlings there. But it’s only a matter of time — perhaps a year or two, estimates one astronomer — before we find the right one of the right size in the right place.

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