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'Earth-like' planet found just outside solar system

2:59am JST - 01:21

An international team of over 30 scientists say they have found an Earth-like planet just outside the solar system which might be viable for holding liquid water and supporting life. Mana Rabiee reports.

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Scientists have discovered a planet they think is similar to Earth -- and it's relatively 'close' in space terms. They're calling it Proxima b -- just 4.2 light years from Earth, in the Alpha Centauri system. The nearest star to our solar system. Astronomer Ansgar Reiners: (SOUNDBITE) (English) SCIENTIST ANSGAR REINERS, SAYING: "We have no clue whether this planet has an atmosphere or not, whether it has water or not. But the existence of it is actually plausible." An international team of scientists say changes in the color of the light coming from the planet's host star suggests Proxima b is a little bigger than Earth -- and much closer to its star than we are to the Sun. They say if it does have an atmosphere, its temperatures would be close to those on earth. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SCIENTIST ANSGAR REINERS, SAYING: "It is similar to earth in its shape and making. So it is not a gas ball or something." All these features mean Proxima b could potentially support water and be viable for supporting life. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SCIENTIST ANSGAR REINERS, SAYING: Bottom line, Proxima B is actually our neighbor, so let us get used to it." Astronomers hope to one day take images of the planet itself to find out if does have an atmosphere. If their findings are accurate, it would be a major step in the quest for other life in the universe.

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'Earth-like' planet found just outside solar system

2:59am JST - 01:21