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What’s a ‘Goldilocks planet’ and why are scientists so stoked they found one?

goldilocks planet

ET? Is that you out there? (bmalarky/Flickr)

Researchers using the Very Large Telescope in Chile (yeah, that's its actual name) announced they found the closest Earth-like planet circling the sun that we know about.

The planet circles a small star called Proxima Centauri, right in the "Goldilocks zone." Meaning that, like Goldilocks' favorite porridge, it is not too hot and it is not too cold -- and, if it has an atmosphere that sustains water, it could have life. Possibly even intelligent life.


The planet is only is only 4.2 light years — you know, a mere 25 trillion miles — away, which is close in the context of the vast infinity of space.

Other planets in the Goldlilocks zone have been found, but they have been in other galaxies, making them much more difficult to study. This one shares the Milky Way galaxy with us.

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What’s a ‘Goldilocks planet’ and why are scientists so stoked they found one?

Allison Hollender

Allison is originally from Fresno, California, but made her way to the beautiful Central Coast, where she is a student at UC Santa Cruz, earning a degree in both history and politics, working as a reporter for City on a Hill Press, and guzzling gallons of coffee. She is a lover of television and all things Amy Poehler. Follow her embarrassing attempts at jokes on Twitter @alleyrenee16.

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