The fortuitous discovery could mean that potentially habitable alien worlds could exist in a greater variety of environments than was previously thought possible, the researchers said.

“Statistics tell us we shouldn’t have found something this quickly this soon unless there’s a lot of them out there,” Vogt said. “This tells us there must be an awful lot of these planets out there. It was almost too easy to find, and it happened too quickly.”

The detailed findings of the study will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.