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Salamanders and Newts
Vampire Bats on the Run
New Elephant-Shrew
Sleep Affects a Bird's Singing
The nerve of one animal
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Internet Generation
Chemistry and Materials
The newest superheavy in town
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Revving Up Green Machines
Play for Science
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New twists for phantom limbs
Dinosaurs and Fossils
A Living Fossil
Tiny Pterodactyl
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Undersea Vent System Active for Ages
A Volcano's Deadly Ash
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Little Bits of Trouble
Catching Some Rays
Whale Watch
Finding the Past
A Long Haul
Prehistoric Trips to the Dentist
Sahara Cemetery
A Jellyfish's Blurry View
Food and Nutrition
Yummy bugs
The Color of Health
Building a Food Pyramid
GSAT English Rules
Problems with Prepositions
Who vs. Whom
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Detecting True Art
Human Body
Music in the Brain
A Long Trek to Asia
Remembering Facts and Feelings
Daddy Long Legs
Dust Mites
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
Strange Universe: The Stuff of Darkness
Project Music
Black Hole Journey
Stalking Plants by Scent
Flower family knows its roots
The algae invasion
Boa Constrictors
Garter Snakes
Space and Astronomy
Pluto's New Moons
Return to Space
Witnessing a Rare Venus Eclipse
Technology and Engineering
Reach for the Sky
A Micro-Dose of Your Own Medicine
Machine Copy
The Parts of Speech
What is a Verb?
Problems with Prepositions
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Ready, unplug, drive
How to Fly Like a Bat
Science loses out when ice caps melt
Earth's Poles in Peril
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Cousin Earth

As their search continues, astronomers are finding more and more planets orbiting nearby stars. This time, they've detected a solid planet that's just 15 light-years from Earth. Many details about the planet remain unknown because the astronomers didn't see it directly. Instead, they were able to detect how the planet's gravity makes its star wobble a little bit. Out of 156 planets discovered so far in other solar systems, the new extrasolar planet is the smallest one yet found. It's about 7.5 times heavier than Earth. Along with two, much bigger planets, the new world orbits a star called Gliese 876. The planet takes just 1.9 days to complete an orbit around Gliese 876. So, its year is much, much shorter than ours. It's so close to its star that its surface is hot enough to roast a chicken. Most extrasolar planets that have been found so far are big balls of gas, like Jupiter and Saturn. Because the planet's mass is low, it probably couldn't hold onto much gas. So, scientists suspect that it's rocky. "This could be the first [known] rocky planet around any normal star other than the sun," says team member Jack Lissauer of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. Scientists are still trying to figure out how rocky planets might form so close to their stars. Whatever the answer, the new discovery gives researchers confidence that they will one day find even closer cousins to Earth somewhere in the universe. And, on a planet resembling Earth, they might also discover traces of life as we know it.—E. Sohn

Cousin Earth
Cousin Earth

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