A 'traffic jam' of strange worlds uncovered by Oxford astonomy volunteers

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.”

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