There is some more exciting news from the Kepler space telescope mission – as announced in a NASA press briefing this morning, three more planets have been detected orbiting in their stars’ habitable zones. Larger planets have been found already in this zone around various stars, but what makes this newest discovery so compelling is that these new planets are the smallest found so far in this zone, so-called “super-Earths.” Two of them may even be covered by oceans!
The Kepler space telescope has already found thousands of exoplanets orbiting other stars, and now the next space telescope to join the search has been announced.
One of the unique characteristics of Earth which sets it apart from other known planets is its oceans. Such large bodies of surface water have not yet been found elsewhere, although a number of moons, including Europa, Enceladus and Titan and possibly others, are thought to have subsurface oceans and or seas.
For those who wonder about alien worlds out there, this is an exciting time of discovery. The number of exoplanets found so far is now well into the thousands and rapidly growing. The one downside – if you can call it that – is that these planets, with just a few exceptions, have been discovered by methods other than direct imaging. So there are still precious few actual photos of any of these far-off worlds. But a new “extreme” telescope is set to start changing that.
The Kepler space telescope has added another significant discovery to its growing list - the smallest exoplanet found so far (again) orbiting a sun-like star, it was announced on Wednesday.
Exoplanets are now being discovered on a regular basis, including ones that may be potentially habitable. But when even the nearest ones are so far away compared to the planets in our own solar system, how could they be studied for possible signs of life? Is that even possible?
There was more exciting exoplanet-related news this morning – a team of astronomers announced a new study today which estimates that there are likely about 4.5 billion “Earth-like” planets in our galaxy!
When searching for potentially habitable exoplanets, one of the key factors to take into consideration is the habitable zone, the region around a star where temperatures could allow liquid water to exist on the surface of any rocky planets that may orbit them.
The new year has barely begun, and already it has been a good one for exoplanets. In a previous update, it was reported that the Kepler space telescope has added hundreds of exoplanet candidates to its rapidly growing list. That is exciting enough, but another new study now, similar to other ones, estimates that there are billions of other planets in our galaxy alone.