NASA's Kepler Telescope Discovers The Most 'Earth-Like' Planets Ever
Astronomers announced that they have found eight new exoplanets using NASA's Kepler Telescope, two of which are more Earth-like than anything they've ever seen.
All of these planets have been spotted orbiting in the Goldilocks zone of their stars over 450 light years away, the area around a star that is friendly to life as we know it. This means they receive about as much sunlight as we do on Earth, so their water doesn't boil with too much or freeze with too little. Simply put, the planets could be habitable.
"We don't know for sure whether any of the planets in our sample are truly habitable," explains author David Kipping of the CfA. "All we can say is that they're promising candidates."
So if all eight of them are within this zone of their stars, why is it only two that these researchers are particularly interested in? Turns out they're also probably rocky, like Earth, and roughly the same size as our planet, as is explained in their release.
The two most Earth-like planets of the group are Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b. Both orbit red dwarf stars that are smaller and cooler than our Sun. Kepler-438b circles its star every 35 days, while Kepler-442b completes one orbit every 112 days.
With a diameter just 12 percent bigger than Earth, Kepler-438b has a 70-per cent chance of being rocky, according to the team's calculations. Kepler-442b is about one-third larger than Earth, but still has a 60-per cent chance of being rocky.
Of course with the distance between us and the planet, close inspection is impossible, but with this impressive amount of information received from the Kepler telescope, we have another candidate for a second Earth when Skynet hits.