This is a reading comprehension exercise for children. It is written by Susan Fineman, a reading specialist in the New Haven, Conn., school district.

Astronomers have found evidence of six new planets orbiting distant stars, bringing to 28 the planets known to exist outside of our solar system.

An international team of astronomers announced Monday that all the newly discovered planets are about the size of Jupiter or larger, and that they all orbit stars 65 to 192 light years from Earth.

At least five of them, given their distance from their stars, could have water in liquid form, a fundamental requirement for life, the researchers said.

The planets' presence was discovered by measuring a very slight motion distortion, or wobble, of the target star. The wobble is caused by the gravitational pull from a planet that orbits the star.

Five of the six new planets are within what is called the habitable zone--a region around a star where temperatures would allow liquid water to exist. Planets and moons that are closer to the star are thought to be too hot for liquid water, and those outside the habitable zone are thought to be too cold.

"These planets are at just the right distance, with temperatures in one case around 108 degrees Fahrenheit--like a hot day in Sacramento," Calif., Vogt said.

Details on the newly found planets, with the name of the host star, its distance from Earth, the planet size and its estimated average temperature (a light year is 5.9 trillion miles, and Jupiter's mass is about 318 times greater than Earth's):

Star HD 10697: 106 light years away. Planet equals 6.35 Jupiter masses. Temperature of 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Within habitable zone.

Star HD 37124: 108 light years. Planet equals 1.04 Jupiter masses. Temperature of 130 degrees. Within habitable zone.

Star HD 134987: 83 light years. Planet equals 1.59 Jupiter masses. Temperature of 108 degrees. Within habitable zone.

Star HD 177830: 192 light years. Planet equals 1.22 Jupiter masses. Temperature of 192 degrees. Within habitable zone.

Star HD 222582: 137 light years. Precise planet size not reported. Temperature of minus 38 degrees. Within habitable zone.

Star HD 192263: 65 light years. Planet equals 0.78 Jupiter masses. Temperature not reported. Outside of habitable zone.


1. An astronomer is a person who studies:

a. the stars and planets.

b. rocket science.

c. for about 190 years.

2. Beyond our solar system, there are known to be:

a. 28 planets.

b. only Earth-sized heavenly bodies.

c. no more than five distant stars.

3. Recently, a team of international astronomers:

a. decided to orbit the moon.

b. discovered six new planets.

c. returned from a trip to Jupiter.

4. Researchers found the planets by:

a. traveling 192 million miles into space.

b. locating moons in faraway galaxies.

c. measuring the movement of stars.

5. When a planet orbits a star, its gravitational pull causes the star to:

a. explode.

b. become a target.

c. wobble (move) slightly.

6. Five of the six planets are:

a. less than 1 trillion miles from Earth.

b. too hot for liquid water.

c. habitable (fit to be lived on).

7. For a region to support life, it must:

a. have water in a liquid state.

b. lie outside our solar system.

c. stay at the same temperature year-round.

8. The farther a planet is from its parent star, the:

a. lower its temperature.

b. greater its size.

c. more moons orbit it.

9. Planets at just the right distance from their host stars:

a. look a lot like Sacramento, Calif.

b. may have temperatures of around 108 degrees F.

c. are frozen much of the time.

10. All of the newly discovered planets are:

a. larger than Jupiter.

b. 65 light years or more from Earth.

c. both a and b.


1. a, 2. a, 3. b, 4. c, 5. c, 6. c, 7. a, 8. a, 9. b, 10 b