Hope in search for alien life as scientists discover two Earth-like planets orbiting nearby star

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TWO newly found planets within our galaxy are now prime targets in our search for alien life.

The mystery worlds sit near one of our closest neighbouring stars, Teegarden, and both may have atmospheres capable of supporting living creatures.

Artist’s impression of Teegarden b and c. The solar system (inset) is about 12.5 light years away
University of Göttingen

Despite sitting 12.5 light years from Earth, scientists said the planets – dubbed Teegarden b and c – echo worlds a little closer to home.

“The two planets resemble the inner planets of our solar system,” said lead scientist Dr Mathias Zechmeister, of the University of Göttingen in Germany.

“They are only slightly heavier than Earth and are located in the so-called habitable zone, where water can be present in liquid form.”

The astronomers suspect that the two planets could be part of a larger system around Teegarden – a small star that only shines half as bright as the Sun.

University of Göttingen

Experts reckon the planets are so similar to Earth that they have an atmosphere and water at their surfaces (artist’s impression)[/caption]

They were found by an international group of scientists, who tracked the movement of the Teergarden star for three years.

Observations at Spain’s Calar Alto Observatory suggested the ball of hot gas was being tugged by the gravitational pull of two planets – Teergarden b and c.

Both worlds appear to be rocky and sit in the star’s habitable zone. Scientists think they have liquid water puddling and trickling on their surfaces.

The innermost of the two worlds has an average temperature of around 20C while the outer one is a little colder, sitting at roughly -47C.

“Both Teegarden’s planets are potentially habitable,” team member Dr Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia, told National Geographic.

“We will eventually see if they are actually habitable and, perhaps, even inhabited.”

Both planets sit in their star’s habitable zone (artist’s impression)
University of Göttingen

Teergarden’s proximity to Earth and its abundance of potential alien planets make it a prime candidate in our search for alien life.

It will likely be a prime target when Nasa’s successor to Hubble, the James Webb Telescope, launches in 2021.

The James Webb will scan distant planets for signs their atmospheres support life.

The research was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Teergarden is a small star about half as bright as our Sun

In other news, scientists “fail to find” alien life in scans of 1,300 stars – but say they’re not giving up yet.

Babies born today will see the first ‘self-sustaining human colony’ on Mars– but experts are warning against ‘mass immigration’ to red planet.

And, here’s a list of asteroids that could crash into Earth – including one with a one in 16 chance.

Do you believe there is alien life out in the Universe? Let us know in the comments!

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