"We decided that it would make sense to see if we could look at the red dwarfs in Kepler (data) whether we would find the occurrence of planets would be consistent," with the earlier study, astronomer Courtney Dressing, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told Discovery News.
The team looked at 95 candidate planets circling red dwarf stars observed by Kepler and found that at least 60 percent have planets smaller than Neptune. Most were not the right size or temperature to be Earth-like, but three were found to be both warm and approximately Earth-sized. Scientists, however, do not have enough information to assess if they are rocky worlds, like Earth.
Nevertheless, statistically that would mean six percent of all red dwarf stars should have a Earth-sized planet, Dressing said, adding that since 75 percent of the closest stars are red dwarfs, the nearest Earth-like world may be just 13 light-years away.
A light year is the distance that light, which moves at about 186,000 miles per second, can travel in one year -- roughly 6 trillion miles, a relative stone's throw in cosmic scales.