Scientists discover Earth-sized planetby The Associated Press on Apr. 21, 2009, under Nation/World, Special
HATFIELD, England – Scientists have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is close to Earth in size — far different from the behemoths previously detected, researchers said Tuesday.
Scientists attending a conference in England said that the planet was less than twice the size of Earth. Nearly 350 so-called exoplanets have been found outside our solar system but so far nearly every one has been too close or too far from its sun, making all too hot or too cold to support life.
Massive planets are more likely to be uninhabitable gas giants like Jupiter. Planets much smaller than earth are very difficult to detect.
The new planet is the smallest exoplanet yet discovered but it is probably too hot for human life because it sits very close to the sun-like star it orbits, researcher Michel Mayor said.
Mayor made the announcement at a press conference during the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science.