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First Earth-sized planets spotted

December 20, 2011
"With every new discovery we're getting closer to the 'holy grail' of an Earth-like planet around a Sun-like star,"
- Dr Francois Fressin, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge

Astronomers have detected the first Earth-sized planets, which are orbiting a star similar to our own Sun. They have described their findings as the most important planets ever discovered outside our Solar System.

The discovery is important because it is the first confirmation that planets the size of Earth and smaller exist outside our Solar System. It also shows that the Kepler Space Telescope is capable of detecting relatively small planets around stars that are thousands of light-years away.

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