Two 'super-Earths' targeted in hunt for alien life
A star system containing two potentially habitable Earth-like planets is being targeted by scientists searching for extra-terrestrial intelligence.
An artist's impression of the Kepler-62 star system as seen from the Earth-like planet "f", which scientists believe could support life. Photo: SETI/PA
In the coming months, astronomers will turn an array of space telescope dishes towards Kepler-62, a star smaller and dimmer than the Sun about 1,000 light years away in the constellation Lyra.
A pair of so-called "super-Earths" have been detected within the "habitable zone" of the star, the orbital region where temperatures are just warm enough to allow bodies of surface water such as oceans and lakes.
Although no-one knows what the planets are made of, they are believed to be rocky. One, Kepler-62f, is thought to have a radius about 1.4 times greater than the Earth's. The other, Kepler-62e, is estimated to be 1.6 times larger.
The planets' parent star is around two billion years older than the Sun, raising the possibility of intelligent life more advanced than it is on Earth.
Both will be priority targets in a new Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (Seti) programme focusing on habitable zone worlds.
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