Astronomers using a potent NASA space telescope to search for life say they have found planets which are the most Earth-like candidates yet. Two of the five planets orbiting a Sun-like star called Kepler-62 are squarely in the habitable zone – not too hot, not too cold, possibly bearing water – NASA scientists report in the journal Science :: Read the full article »»»»
NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope has found 11 new planetary systems, including one with five planets all orbiting closer to their parent star than Mercury circles the Sun, scientists said. The discoveries boost the list of confirmed extra-solar planets to 729, including 60 credited to the Kepler team. The telescope, launched in space in March 2009, can detect slight but regular dips in the amount of light coming from stars. Scientists can then determine if the changes are caused by orbiting planets passing by, relative to Kepler’s view.
Kepler scientists have another 2,300 candidate planets awaiting additional confirmation. None of the newly discovered planetary systems are like our solar system, though Kepler-33, a star that is older and bigger than the Sun, comes close in terms of sheer numbers. It has five planets, compared to our solar system’s eight, but the quintet all fly closer to their parent star than Mercury orbits the Sun.
The planets range in size from about 1.5 times the diameter of Earth to five times Earth’s diameter. Scientists have not yet determined if any are solid rocky bodies like Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury or if they are filled with gas like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The Kepler team previously found one star with six confirmed planets and a second system with five planets, said planetary scientist Jack Lissauer, with NASA’s Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, California. Read the full article »»»»
NASA Astronomers say that for the first time they have spotted two Earth-sized worlds orbiting a Sun-like star, in another big advance in the search for the study of so-called exoplanets.
One of the planets is just 3 per cent bigger than Earth and the other is 13 per cent smaller, which would make it a bit smaller than Venus, they reported online in the British science journal, Nature. The planets are inferred to have a rocky composition similar to Earth’s but they orbit so close to their star, Kepler-20, that the temperature is likely to be far too high to nurture life.
The larger planet, Kepler-20f, completes a “year” in 19.5 days and may have a thick water-vapour atmosphere, while Kepler-20e zips around the star in just 6.1 days. Read the full article »»»»
Astronomers with NASA’s Kepler mission have confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet in a “habitable zone” around a star not unlike our own.
The planet, Kepler 22-b, lies about 600 light years away, about two-and-a-half times the size of Earth, with a temperature of about 22 degrees Celsius, allowing liquid water to exist on the surface. Its year is about 290 days long. This is the first time the Kepler mission has detected a potentially habitable world orbiting a Sun-like star, scientists reported in findings to be published in The Astrophysical Journal. Read the full article »»»»
NASA’s Kepler satellite, also known as the planet hunter has found a planet that is particularly unusual, TrES-2b holds claim to being the darkest planet ever found. Darker than coal, blacker than black acrylic paint and with a constant temperature of over 1,800 degrees Celsius, she’s as hot as she is dark. Discovered 750 lights years away in the direction of the constellation Draco. Kepler is our eyes and ears in deep space and with it they are being taken to unimagined new world, now instead of just wondering what’s out there we’re finding its even stranger than we imagined.
“It’s not clear what is responsible for making this planet so extraordinarily dark,” stated co-author David Spiegel of Princeton University. “However, it’s not completely pitch black. It’s so hot that it emits a faint red glow, much like a burning ember or the coils on an electric stove.” Read the full article »»»»