VOLUNTEERS taking part in an Oxford University astronomy project have discovered 15 new planet candidates orbiting around stars.
Researchers say this indicates there may be a ‘traffic jam’ of all kinds of strange worlds in regions that could potentially support life.
One of the 15, a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a Sun-like star, has been officially confirmed as a planet and has been named PH2 b.
Oxford University’s Dr Chris Lintott, left, said: “There’s an obsession with finding Earth-like planets but what we are discovering, with planets such as PH2 b, is far stranger.
“Jupiter has several large water-rich moons. Imagine dragging that system into the comfortably warm region where the Earth is.
“If such a planet had Earth-size moons, we’d see not Europa and Callisto but worlds with rivers, lakes and all sorts of habitats – a surprising scenario that might just be common.”
Dr Ji Wang, another author of the study, said: “I can’t wait for the day when astronomers report detecting signs of life on other worlds instead of just locating potentially habitable environments. That could happen any day now.”