Buy land, Mark Twain said. They aren't making any more. Mark Twain didn't reckon with astronomers, who report Wednesday that 6% of red dwarf stars possess ocean-friendly Earth-sized planets.
Space looks a little more crowded, astronomers report. About 6% of nearby dwarf stars likely host Earth-like planets, a science team announced on Wednesday.
The astronomy team at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., says that these "red dwarf" stars, too dim to be seen by the naked eye but by far the most common kind in space, may host many habitable worlds. The finding, based on observations made by NASA's Kepler space telescope, suggests that an Earth-sized world orbiting in its star's "habitable zone" -- not to hot or too cold for oceans -- probably resides within 13 light years of Earth, or about 77 trillion miles. That's neighbors by astronomical standards.