Extraterrestrial life: Earth-like planets just 'a stroll across the park'

Earth-like planets could be 13 light years away

Published On: Feb 06 2013 04:18:49 PM EST
Planet Earth from space
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -

The possibility of finding life on another planet could be closer than anyone imagined, thanks to the work of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics team. Galactically speaking, it's a stroll across the park.

Astronomers reported Wednesday that the closest Earth-like planet may be just 13 light years away. That planet hasn't been found yet, but it should be there based on the team's study of red dwarf stars, the Associate Press reports.

Small, cool red dwarf stars are the most common stars in our galaxy, numbering 75 billion.

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics team estimates 6 percent of red dwarfs have Earth-like planets. To qualify, the planet must be roughly the size of Earth and get as much light from its star, as Earth does from the sun.

This high rate of occurrence should simplify the search for extraterrestrial life.