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Three new planets classified as habitable-zone super-Earths are amongst eight new planets discovered orbiting nearby red dwarf stars by an international team of astronomers from the UK and Chile.

The study identifies that virtually all red dwarfs, which make up at least three quarters of the stars in the Universe, have planets orbiting them.

The research also suggests that habitable-zone super-Earth planets (where liquid water could exist and making them possible candidates to support life) orbit around at least a quarter of the red dwarfs in the Sun's own neighbourhood.

These new results have been obtained from analysing data from two high-precision planet surveys -- the HARPS (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher) and UVES (Ultraviolet and Visual Echelle Spectrograph) -- both operated by the European Southern Observatory in Chile. By combining the data, the team was able to detect signals that were not strong enough to be seen clearly in the data from either instrument alone.

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