Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




EXO WORLDS
Astronomers find most Earth-like planets yet
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) April 18, 2013


Using a potent NASA space telescope to scan the skies for planets like ours where life might exist, astronomers said Thursday they have found the most Earth-like candidates yet.

Two of the five planets orbiting a sun-like star called Kepler-62 are squarely in what astronomers call the habitable zone -- not too hot, not too cold and possibly bearing water, researchers said in the journal Science.

"These two are our best candidates that might be habitable," said William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center.

The two planets are slightly larger than ours, and at least a couple of billion years older.

The first, 62e, is about 40 percent larger than Earth.

It might be warm, maybe even a waterworld, and may experience flashes of lightning, said Borucki.

The second, 62f, is about 60 percent larger than our planet, and orbits its star every 267 days, close to Earth's annual trajectory of 365 days.

The planet may have polar caps, significant land masses and liquid water, Borucki said.

Both are orbiting a seven-billion-year-old star some 1,200 light years from Earth in the constellation Lyra.

They are close enough to their star to be warm, but not so near as to boil the oceans. They are far enough to maintain the likelihood of water without freezing the seas solid, Borucki explained.

Scientists do not yet know if their surfaces are rocky or watery, or if they have atmospheres that could sustain life.

But their location and size suggest they "could plausibly be composed of condensable compounds and be solid, either as a dry, rocky super-Earth or one composed of a significant amount of water," said the study.

Other studies have indicated that planets with a radius under 1.6 times that of the Earth, like these two, "have been found to have densities indicative of a rocky composition."

Astronomers detected the planets by observing their star dim when the planets pass in front of it, in what is known as a "transit."

"These are the most similar objects to Earth that we have found yet," said Justin Crepp, assistant professor of physics at the University of Notre Dame.

Crepp first saw a dot near Kepler-62 about a year ago, and has studied the movements of the system for months in order to confirm the discovery.

A third potentially habitable planet, Kepler 69c, is on the "inner edge of what has been considered to be the habitable zone," said Thomas Barclay, Kepler scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute in Sonoma, California.

However, that one may be small and hot and more like Venus, the second planet from our sun, said Barclay, whose research was published Thursday in the Astrophysical Journal.

"We're not sure yet," he told reporters. Its host star, Kepler 69, is about 2,700 light years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.

All together, the latest findings add seven new planets -- four of which are outside the habitable zone -- to the tally that Kepler has found so far, totaling more than 2,700 candidates and confirmed planets.

In late 2011, NASA confirmed its first-ever planet in a habitable zone outside our solar system -- Kepler 22b, spinning around its star some 600 light years away.

However, the large size of that exoplanet, at 2.4 times the size of the Earth, has left some doubt over whether the planet is rocky, gaseous or liquid.

Another large planet that Kepler has confirmed in the habitable zone, Kepler 47c, is also much bigger than Earth.

Kepler, launched in 2009, is NASA's first mission in search of Earth-like planets orbiting suns similar to ours.

It is equipped with the largest camera ever sent into space in its search for planets as small as Earth, including those orbiting stars in a warm, habitable zone where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planet.

.


Related Links
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EXO WORLDS
Kepler Finds Two Water Worlds 1200 Lights Years Away
Cambridge, MA (SPX) Apr 17, 2013
In our solar system, only one planet is blessed with an ocean: Earth. Our home world is a rare, blue jewel compared to the deserts of Mercury, Venus and Mars. But what if our Sun had not one but two habitable ocean worlds? Astronomers have found such a planetary system orbiting the star Kepler-62. This five-planet system has two worlds in the habitable zone - the distance from their star a ... read more


EXO WORLDS
Characterizing The Lunar Radiation Environment

Russia rekindles Moon exploration program, intends setting up first human outposts there

Pre-existing mineralogy may survive lunar impacts

Lunar cycle determines hunting behaviour of nocturnal gulls

EXO WORLDS
Accurate pointing by Curiosity

NASA Mars Orbiter Images May Show 1971 Soviet Lander

Opportunity is in position for solar conjunction at 'Cape York' on the rim of Endeavour Crater

NASA spacecraft may have spotted pieces of Soviet spacecraft on Mars

EXO WORLDS
Testing Spacesuits in Antarctica, part 1

Obama's budget would boost science, health

Underwater for outer space

NASA Celebrates Four Decades of Plucky Pioneer 11

EXO WORLDS
Shenzhou's Shadow Crew

Shenzhou 10 sent to launch site

China's Next Women Astronauts

Shenzhou 10 - Next Stop: Jiuquan

EXO WORLDS
UH Engineering Researcher's Theories to be Tested Aboard ISS

Unmanned Russian space freighter leaves space station toward fiery end

Europe sets June 5 for launch of space freighter

Spooky action at a distance aboard the ISS

EXO WORLDS
Launch pad problem scrubs launch of Antares rocket for NASA

ILS Proton Launches Anik G1 for Telesat

Ukraine aims to accelerate space industry development

Payload integration is underway for Vega's second mission from the Spaceport

EXO WORLDS
Astronomers find most Earth-like planets yet

Can One Buy the Right to Name a Planet?

Retired Star Found With Planets And Debris Disc

The Great Exoplanet Debate

EXO WORLDS
Softening steel problem expands computer model applications

New material gets itself into shape

For the very first time, two spacecraft will fly in formation with millimeter precision

High pressure gold nanocrystal structure revealed




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement