Science

Nasa finds 10 more Earth-like planets

Nasa finds 10 more Earth-like planets”

This data will enable scientists to determine what planetary populations, from rocky bodies the size of Earth, to gas giants the size of Jupiter, make up the galaxy's planetary demographics. Of these, 49 are thought to be habitable - meaning liquid water can pool on the surface and life may be able to thrive. There have been almost 50 planets that have been detected as the near-earth zone habitable zone candidates and 30 of them have been verified.

Mario Perez, a Kepler programme scientist in the astrophysics division at Nasa, said: "The Kepler data set is unique, as it is the only one containing a population of these near Earth-analogs - planets with roughly the same size and orbit as Earth". It's also the final catalog from the spacecraft's view of the patch of sky in the Cygnus constellation.

Susan Thompson, Kepler research scientist for the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and lead author of the catalog study said, "This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of the astronomy's most compelling questions - how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?"

Of the 4,034 "candidates", over half have already been identified as "exoplanets" - planets orbiting around a star outside the solar system - since the Kepler telescope was launched in 2009.

The details of all 10 planets including the other 209 detected by the Kepler telescope has been mentioned in the catalog released by NASA on Monday.

The announcement was made during a briefing at the Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, as members of NASA's Kepler program revealed the latest results of their planet-hunting effort. Several of these planets orbit G dwarfs - the same species of star as the sun. "But I'd only want to live on one of them", Thompson said. After further analysis, they discovered that the smaller worlds the Kepler telescope detected fall into two distinct groups: rocky planets about 1.75 times larger than our own ("super-Earths"), and gaseous "mini-Neptunes" that are two to three times bigger than Earth.

Kepler is on the hunt for planets detecting tiny specks of darkness in the brightness of a star, which happens when a planet crosses in front of it; This is called a transit.

Kepler is not the only way astronomers have found exoplanets, and even potentially habitable ones. It has shown us these terrestrial worlds, and we still have all of this work to do to really understand how common Earths are in the galaxy.



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