Two more Earth-sized planets discovered by Kepler, orbiting former red giant star

Artist's conception of the KOI 55 system. Credit: S. Charpinet / Univ. of Toulouse

Amid all of the news last week regarding the discovery by Kepler of two Earth-sized planets orbiting another star, there was another similar find which hadn’t received as much attention. There were two more Earth-sized planets also just discovered by Kepler orbiting a different star. In this case, however, the star is an old and dying one, and has passed its red giant phase where it expands enormously, destroying (or at least barbecuing) any nearby planets in the process before becoming just an exposed core of its former self. The paper was just published in the journal Nature

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Paul Scott Anderson is a freelance space writer with a life-long passion for space exploration and astronomy. He started his blog The Meridiani Journal in 2005, which is a chronicle of planetary exploration. He also publishes The Exoplanet Report e-paper. In 2011, he started writing about space on a freelance basis, and now also currently write for AmericaSpace and Examiner.com. He has also written for Universe Today and SpaceFlight Insider, has been published in The Mars Quarterly and has done supplementary writing for the well-known iOS app Exoplanet for iPhone and iPad.