Scientists believe that they have potentially discovered a number of possibilities of planets closeby that have the potential to harbor the kind of life as humans know it.
The planets that astronomers are focusing their attention on surround the star Tau Ceti which is only 12 light years from Earth and is similar in size to Earth’s sun (although slights smaller). In particular, the attention is on five planets which orbit the star. The planets in question are a bit bigger than earth (two to six times bigger in fact), and their orbits range from 14 to 630 days. But scientists are optimistic, and describe these particular planets as being in the “goldilocks zone” or “habitable zone” in that all conditions for life as we know it are very close to right. For example, the planet’s climates are temperate enough and conducive to harboring water.
Although Tau Ceti is the newest and hottest of the stars that astronomers believe might harbor life, the idea is not a new one – in 1960, Frank Drake, a radio astronomer who ran SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) – believed that Tau Ceti had all the right ingredients to harbor life.
Was he right? Astronomers are alive with hope.