Astronomers say they have uncovered evidence for what could be four super-Earth planets orbiting within the habitable zones of two stars within 22 light-years of Earth.
Three of those candidate planets are among a tightly packed clutch of five that orbit Gliese 667C, part of a triple-star system 22 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. The other possible planet is one of five orbiting tau Ceti, a sun-like star 12 light-years away in the constellation Cetus.
Taken together, the detections not only add to accumulating evidence that planets look to be more common than stars – and that planets in habitable zones could be more common than previously thought, some of researchers reporting the finds say.
The finds also illustrate the power of improved statistical tools to boldly uncover candidate planets where no planet had been found before.