'Earth-like' planet found -- with 1,500-degree heat
AN Earth-like planet has been discovered orbiting the nearest star to our own Sun. The planet is the closest and smallest of the 800 or so "exoplanets" that scientists have identified beyond the Solar System.
But stargazers shouldn't get too excited -- astronomers have discounted the possibility of the planet harbouring life because its molten surface stews at about 1,500C.
Little more is known about the planet except that it has a mass similar to Earth's and spins around our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, once every 3.2 days at a distance of 6 million kilometres.
Alpha Centauri is the brightest star in the southern sky and is 4.3 light years from Earth, meaning it would take 40,000 years to travel there.
However, the scientists who discovered it believe their ability to detect such a small object so far away means they will soon be able to detect a twin planet to Earth in the "habitable zone" of its star, where liquid water and life can exist. (© Independent News Service)