Look: 9 exoplanets that hold potential for alien life

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Last week, NASA announced a new milestone for astronomy: more than 5000 exoplanets have been cataloged and confirmed in the past 30 years.

The sheer number of planets beyond the Solar System raises the possibility that we may one day find life beyond Earth.

However, some planets are more likely to be habitable than others.


MARK GARLICK/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

NASA’s Habitable Exoplanets Catalog keeps tabs on which worlds may have the potential to host life.

There are 59 total entries, showing that only a small portion of the worlds we’ve discovered are contenders for cosmic company.


Here are 9 promising exoplanets for life off Earth:

9. Kepler-22b

This super-Earth has a radius 2.4 times that of our home planet, and orbits in the habitable zone of its host star. It could be covered in a vast ocean, though scientists are still unsure about its makeup.

NASA/Ames/JPL Caltech

This planet is just one of several in the TRAPPIST-1 system that could potentially host life. TRAPPIST-1e is about the same size as our planet, and orbits in the habitable zone of a dwarf star, 40 light years from Earth.

7. Proxima Centauri B

Just 4.2 light years from Earth, this world is about the same size as our home planet. It also orbits the closest star to Earth, making it far and away the closest exoplanet.

6. Ross 128 b

This planet is also close to Earth at just 11 light years away. It is the closest planet orbiting a red dwarf star, and is likely to be a terrestrial world like our home planet.

ESO/M. Kornmesser

5. Kepler-1649c

Discovered in 2020, this planet shares many crucial similarities with Earth, including its size and temperature.

NASA/Ames Research Center/Daniel Rutter
4. Teegarden’s Star b

This world orbits one of the smallest stars we know of. But since it is the innermost planet in that system, researchers think it could be warm enough to be habitable.

3. TOI-700d

This potentially rocky planet is 100 light years away, slightly larger that Earth, and orbits a star 40 percent the mass of our Sun.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
2. Kepler-62f

Though this planet is roughly 40 percent larger than Earth, researchers estimate that is has a rocky composition like our home planet, and resides in a habitable zone.

NASA/Ames/JPL Caltech
1. LHS 1140b

Another massive, rocky world with potential. Future studies on this world’s — and other exoplanets’ atmospheres — could help reveal which bodies carry the right compounds for life.


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