NASA telescope finds 10 more planets that could have life
NASA telescope finds 10 more planets that could have life
20 June, 2017, 01:20
One of Kepler's other big surprises was a profusion of planets intermediate in size between Earth and Neptune.
Kepler scientist Mario Perez said that means that "we are probably not alone" because four years of data show how common Earth-like planets can be. Understanding how frequent planets like our own will help NASA develop the next telescope that will directly image planets like Earth. All of Kepler's observations were in a small patch of sky between the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra. The 1,284 newly discovered exoplanets were only announced as such after being identified with 99% confidence, but as NASA admits, that leaves out 1,327 other likely exoplanets that couldn't reach that 99% certainty. "There's a lot we don't know about this planet", said Kepler researcher Susan Mullally, so it's too soon to say if KOI-7711 is truly a twin of Earth with a similar atmosphere and liquid water.
This artist rendering provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle, taken in 2015, depicts one possible appearance of the planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone of a star that is similar to our sun. More than half (2,335) are verified as exoplanets. "This has implications in the search for life", Fulton said. "It's fantastic the things that Kepler has found, it has shown us these terrestrial worlds, and we still have all this work to do to understand how common Earths are in the galaxy".
With the release of this catalog, derived from data publicly available on the NASA Exoplanet Archive, there are now 4,034 planet candidates identified by Kepler. If Kepler, the planet and its star don't line up, we can't see a transit.
This is the eighth release of the Kepler candidate catalog, gathered by reprocessing the entire set of data from Kepler's observations during the first four years of its primary mission.
Seven of the 10 newfound Earth-size planets circle stars that are just like ours, not cool dwarf ones that require a planet be quite close to its star for the right temperature.
Before Kepler was launched, astronomers had hoped that the frequency of Earth-like planets would be about one percent of the stars.
Kepler continues to search for planets in different regions of space.
So far, these planets, which scientists refer to as "super-Earths" and "mini-Neptunes", have not been found in Earth's solar system, though scientists are on the hunt for a potential ninth planet far beyond Pluto. "Finding two distinct groups of exoplanets is like discovering mammals and lizards make up distinct branches of a family tree".
The James Webb Space Telescope, however, is capable of observing large exoplanets and detecting starlight filtered through their atmosphere, which will enable scientists to determine the atmospheric composition of the planets and analyze them for the presence of gases that can create a biological ecosystem.
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