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KOI 172.02: Alien Super-Earth Could Host Species Of 'Very Clever Dolphins', Scientists Joke

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Artist's impression of an alien 'super Earth'
Artist's impression of an alien 'super Earth'

A newly-discovered alien world which looks unsettlingly like Earth could be a "prime candidate" for hosting life, scientists have said.

And while it might not be rocky like our own world, scientists have already joked it might host a species of "very clever dolphins".

The discovery of planet KOI 172.02 was announced this week along with 460 other potential alien worlds found by the Kepler space telescope.

KOI 172.02 is about the same size as Earth, and orbits a star similar to our own at about the same distance.

Its radius is just 1.5 times that of Earth and it orbits a star similar to the Sun, within the "habitable zone" where liquid water could exist.

KOI 172.02's sun is slightly cooler than our own, and the planet is located slightly closer to its surface. It orbits at about 70 million miles, compared to 93 million miles between the Earth and the Sun.

It has an orbit of 242 days, compared to our 365.

The planet is the first Earth-like planet found orbiting a Sun-like star in the habitable zone - making it a so-called "big deal" according to investigators at Nasa.

"It's a big deal," astrophysicist Mario Livio, who works at the Space Telescope Science Institute, told Space.com.

"It's definitely a good candidate for life."

Scientists aren't sure whether it's rocky like Earth, but said there is a good chance it has liquid water.

"Maybe there's no land life, but perhaps very clever dolphins," Livio apparently joked.

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