Click here to preview the new Fast Company

Want to try out the new

If you’d like to return to the previous design, click the yellow button on the lower left corner.

Earth-Like World Discovered Just Around The Corner From Earth

Astronomers have found a planet not too unlike ours that's in orbit around the star Tau Ceti.

Alien planet hunting is a big thing, and now the clever boffins who use their tech to find these "extrasolar" planets have pulled off something rather amazing. They've discovered a planet that could be a lot like Earth and it's in orbit around a well-known star called Tau Ceti in the constellation Cetus. That means it's just 12 light years away, which is—in terms of the sheer mind boggling enormousness of space—just next door.

Tau Ceti is also a star that's a lot like our own Sun. It gives out roughly the same sort of light at similar energy levels, even while it's only about 78% of the size of the Sun. For these reasons alone it's a regular feature in science fiction.

The real discovery here is that Tau Ceti has five planets orbiting around it. And one of them sits happily in the "goldilocks zone," which means its orbit exposes it to similar light and energy as our planet is (i.e., it's not too hot, not too cold). And since Tau Ceti is very sun-like, this means the planet could be very Earth-like. Better yet because it's only 12 light years away, it's plausible that if any alien life exists on the planet we could detect signals from it. Planetary scientists are even more excited than alien hunters, though, because its proximity means we may be able to investigate the planet's atmosphere.

Does the search for alien planets excite you culturally, scientifically or even just out of curiosity? Or does the hunt for real E.T.s make you nervous?

[Image of Cetus: Flickr user jabberwock]

Add New Comment


  • BASavage

    This is great news!  The amazing things we are finding. If we could warp space we could get there in a matter of days or even hours. Too bad we have cancelled much of the research funding for new technologies. To those who are fellow theists out there. More proof of too much  organizatinon to be called random.

    I wonder how many other planets there are in our galaxy alone could be out there? Perhaps with out number?

  • Studentmsud

    We can not be the only intelligent world in the universe. It's just a matter of time that's its proven. I just hope it's in my lifetime.

  • Jtwilison77

    I will die a happy man if we can just simply find a living organism outside of earth.