In the past 5,000 years, more than 1,700 nearby stars could have seen Earth and potentially detected life here, and four of those stars are known to possess rocky planets of their own, a new study finds.

When astronomers hunt for exoplanets, the most productive strategy to date is to look for worlds that “transit,” or cross in front of, their stars. “Seventy percent of all known exoplanets have been found by transits so far,” study lead author Lisa Kaltenegger, an astrophysicist and director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, told 

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