How likely is it that these distant worlds are habitable?
Earlier this week, scientists revealed that NASA's TESS satellite discovered its first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a distant star. Naturally, this "Second Earth" has people intrigued—but what's even more exciting is there may be an entire universe full of them.
Astronomers have long peered out across the stars in hopes of learning more about where and how life could exist outside of Earth. They've discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets since the late 1990s, but these are just a few that could have the best chance of harboring life.
In order to find life elsewhere in the cosmos, we must first find water. These incredible worlds fall within the habitable zone, meaning they're not too close to their star that surface water evaporates, and they're not too far that it might freeze. Some exoplanets are thought to be rocky bodies, while others may be full ocean worlds.
These exoplanets orbit a range of star types, from M-type stars, known as red dwarfs, to sun-like G-type stars such as Tau Ceti. In the coming years, scientists will continue to learn more and more about these strange exoplanets. We're just thrilled to be along for the ride.