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Astronomers Discover Earthlike Planet, Give it Boring Name
September 1, 2011
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If humanity ever develops the technology to travel into deep space and explore new worlds, it's possible we could reach a planet similar enough to our own to support life. Of course, should that ever actually happen, let's hope we do a better job with the name. Using a high-powered telescope, astronomers have just made visual contact with a planet that may be Earth-like, and they've called it... HD85512b.

The astronomers who discovered HD85512b (or C-3P0, for short) calculate that the planet has 3.6 times the mass of Earth, and is located at just the right distance from its parent star to support water - a key trait for supporting life as we know it.

Although astrophysicists recently calculated that there may be as many as two billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy, this newly detected planet is only the second rocky world we've seen outside our solar system that's in the "habitable zone" of orbit around its star. The first - the slightly better-named Gliese 581c - is a tiny, cold planet where a year lasts 13 days. So far, our money's on C-3P0.

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