DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Extrasolar planetary system. Computer artwork of a stellar system with an Earth-like planet (centre) orbiting a star (upper centre), as seen from the surface of a futuristic, alien world. The galaxy it inhabits is stretching across the sky at centre left and a distant galaxy is also seen at far right. An alien (extrasolar) planet has to fit a narrow range of sizes and distances from its star if it is to have a surface temperature suitable for liquid water, and to retain an atmosphere. Many planets have already been discovered orbiting nearby stars.
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