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Americans were enthralled by fake reports of an alien invasion in the Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast on Halloween Eve in 1938. Hundreds of science fiction movies from the 1902 silent epic "A Trip to the Moon" (featured in the current film "Hugo") to "Star Wars" to this year's "Cowboys and Aliens" have fed a deep curiosity about intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe.

Hang on to your hats, because reality is starting to catch up.

On Tuesday, scientists reported evidence from the Kepler satellite that two Earth-sized planets are orbiting a nearby star about 1,000 light years from earth -- practically our back yard compared to the extent of our Milky Galaxy, but far too distant to visit with current spacecraft.

These planets, named Kepler 20-e and Kepler 20-f, have sizes and masses similar to the Earth, and their host star is similar to our sun. But the resemblance ends there. Both orbit very rapidly -- in 6.1 days and 19.6 days, respectively, compared to 365 days for an Earth year -- so both are much closer to their star than the Earth is to the sun.

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