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Last Updated: Sunday February 19 2006 16:05 GMT

The five likely stars for aliens

Cartoon alien
US scientists have pinpointed five stars close to earth as the best places to look for alien civilisations.

The alien hunters will start checking them out for extra-terrestrial intelligence from spring 2006.

The stars are all at least three billion years old - long enough for intelligent life to have evolved.

The five were whittled down from 2,000 and were chosen for their stability, "rocky" qualities and having similar amounts of iron to the Sun.

Beta CVn: a Sun-like star 26 light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici (the hound dogs)
HD 10307: has almost the same mass, temperature and iron content of the Sun
HD 211 415: has about half the metal content of the Sun and is a bit cooler
18 Sco: a near match for the Sun in the constellation Scorpio
51 Pegasus: a Jupiter-like planet has been found here; may also host planets like Earth
The scientists will now use powerful radio telescopes to listen out for intelligent signals from these planets.

The favourite star so far is one called beta CVO, which is slightly brighter than the sun and despite being 26 light years away can be seen from earth.

United States astronomer Dr Margaret Turnbull who led the search said: "We are intentionally biased towards stars that are like the Sun.

"These are places I'd want to live if God were to put our planet around another star."

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