NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope is on the hunt for finding alien Earths. More than 150,000 stars along with its planets were observed by the telescope up to date. The search for Earth-like planets revealed a palette of 4,175 candidates. Now a milestone has been reached when the 1,000th was verified.
Kepler’s data were used by scientists to study distant planet like our own. This significant symbolic number was reached after checking the data according to which those eight candidates detected by Kepler Telescope are indeed planets. The Kepler research team added from May 2009 to April 2013 a number of 554 candidates as potential planets like Earth. From that number, six of them have a size very close to our Earth and seem to be temperate, small worlds. The information was first expressed today at an American Astronomical Society assembly in Seattle, Washington. They orbit in the so called ”habitable zone”, a distance from the star which favors existence and sustainability of life. Three of the six planets have the best chance to hold the precious liquid water. Rock is the main ingredient for two of the three planets. As we all know, volume and mass are the key to determine density. Scientists can conclude if a planet is made of rock or gas, taking into account its density. Kepler-442b and Kepler-438b are two planets with a diameter comparable to Earth’s. Kepler-438b is located 475 light-years away from us, orbiting an orange dwarf star. Our Earth is about 10 percent smaller than this planet. Kepler-442b is 1,100 light-years from Earth and it’s larger by a third than our home planet.
David Kipping, a study co-author and astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said that there is no sure way of establishing the habitability of these planets, but they have a good chance for sustaining life.
Both of them orbit smaller and cooler stars than our sun. This means the habitable zone is located closer to the star. Doug Caldwell, a scientist of SETI Institute Kepler said that “The day is on the horizon when we’ll know how common temperate, rocky planets like Earth are.” These findings have been submitted to be published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement.
Image Source: The Guardian