Just what we wanted for Christmas: our long-lost twin.
An international team of scientists has discovered that an Earth-like planet has been located a scant 12 light years from us. The planet—located within what scientists call a "habitable zone"—is one of five planets near Tau Ceti, one of the closest and most Sun-like stars. Tau Ceti is visible to the naked eye in the evening sky.
"We are now glimpsing for the first time the secrets of our nearest companion stars and their previously hidden reservoirs of potentially habitable planets,” Carnegie Institution for Science's Paul Butler told Science Recorder. “This work presages the time when we will be able to directly see these planets, and search them for water, carbon dioxide, methane, and other signposts of life.”
The scientists said the mystery planet has a mass around five times that of Earth.
The international team of astronomers announced their findings after combining more than 6,000 observations from three different telescopes, according to Science Recorder.
Their work is published by Astronomy & Astrophysics.