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Astronomers see second Earth in the making

This artist's conception shows a binary system, called HD 113766, where astronomers suspect a rocky Earth-like planet is forming around one of the stars.

have spotted evidence of a second Earth being built around a distant star 424 light-years away.

Using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have spotted a huge belt of warm dust swirling around a young star called HD 113766 that is just slightly larger than our sun. The dust belt, which scientists suspect is clumping together to form planets, is located in the middle of the star system's terrestrial habitable zone where temperatures are moderate enough to sustain liquid water. Scientists estimate there is enough material in the belt to form a Mars-sized world or larger.

At approximately 10 million years old, the star is just the right age for forming rocky planets, the researchers say. Their finding will be detailed in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal.

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