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Wanted: the next Earth

More than two decades ago, Didier Queloz co-discovered the first planet outside our solar system. Now, the Nobel laureate is on the hunt for Earth's 'twin'.

GREAT scientific breakthroughs do not always come on an "aha" moment. In the case of Swiss astrophysicist Didier Queloz, his discovery instead gripped him with fear - that his PhD was a flop. In 1995, Dr Queloz co-discovered an exoplanet - a planet outside our solar system. But back then, hunting for exoplanets was something of a fringe pursuit.

Many believed that no such planets even existed. Scientists who tried to prove otherwise came and went, but exoplanets remained well in the realm of science fiction.

Then a PhD student at the University of Geneva, Dr Queloz had been working on an instrument that could detect motion around stars with precision. While tinkering away at a mountain observatory...

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