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Posted: Thursday, September 30th, 2010 5:01 AM HST

Hawaii telescope used to discover planet

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) Astronomers have discovered a planet that could have liquid water on its surface.

The University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy said Wednesday that the planet was found using one of the telescopes of the W.M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island.

The planet orbits a star 20 light years from Earth.

Nader Haghighipour of the University of Hawaii was on the team of astronomers announcing the discovery.

He says the team deduced the planets surface temperature is similar to that of Earth.

Haghighipour says that means at least some of any water on the surface and in its atmosphere will be in liquid form.

He says the discovery of liquid water in space is an important step in the search for extraterrestrial life.

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