by Elizabeth Howell, SPACE.com Contributor
Date: 11 January 2013 Time: 01:44 PM ET
A team of amateurs has discovered evidence for 42 alien planets, including a Jupiter-size world that could potentially be habitable, by sifting through data from a NASA spacecraft.Forty volunteers with the crowd-sourcing Planet Hunters project discovered the new planet candidates, which include 15 potentially habitable worlds and PH2 b, a Jupiter-size planet that the team confirmed to be in the habitable zone of its parent star.
This is the second time Planet Hunters project, which is overseen by Zooniverse, has confirmed a new exoplanet discovery. What's more, several candidate planets found by the project may be in the habitable zones of their parent stars. These candidates are awaiting confirmation by professional astronomers.
Researchers suggested this bonanza of planets in the so-called Goldilocks zone around a star, a habitable zone in which conditions are liquid water to exist on a planet’s surface and potentially support life, could mean there is a "traffic jam" of worlds where life could exist, project officials said.
"These are planet candidates that slipped through the net, being missed by professional astronomers and rescued by volunteers in front of their web browsers,” said the University of Oxford's Chris Lintott, who helms the Zooniverse, in a statement. “It's remarkable to think that absolutely anyone can discover a planet.”
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