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February 7 2013

“Earth-Like” Exoplanets May Actually Be Mini-Neptunes

The discovery of planets beyond our solar system, along with recent efforts to catalog them, has fueled the search for rocky planets similar to Earth that may have conditions suitable for life. For the past 20 years, many scientists have focused on locating “super-Earths“–planets heavier than Earth but with masses quite a bit below that of Neptune or Uranus–in the so-called “habitable zone” of their stars. Within this zone, it is theoretically possible for a planet with the right atmospheric pressures to maintain liquid water on its surface.

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