Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A group of astronomers has found precisely what might be viewed as the most Earth-like planet possibly discovered outside our Solar System. They used the Kepler Space Telescope to discover Kepler 62f, a small rocky planet orbiting a Sun-like star in the Lyra constellation. The planet is approximately 1.4 times the size of Earth, and also gets around fifty percent as much heat and radiation. 

Kepler 62f is among the two “super-Earth” planets discovered in the star Kepler 62′s habitable zone — this means that a planet is not too close that liquid water would probably heat up off the face of the planet, and not that far away that it could be frozen. The planetary system’s some super-Earth, Kepler 62e, is 1 .61 times the Earth’s size also it receives around 20 percent extra radiation and heat than Kepler 62f. 

“The planets this small that we have found until now have been very close to their stars and much too hot to be possibly habitable,” stated Eric Agol, a University of Washington associate professor of astronomy who is actually the second author of the magazine released in Science Express. 

“This is the first one Kepler has found in the habitable zone that satisfies this small size,” Agol stated in a statement. “Kepler 62f is the smallest size and the most promising distance from its star, which by these measures makes it the most similar exoplanet to Earth that has been found by Kepler.” He said that while the sizes of Kepler 62e and 62f are known, their mass and densities are not. 

“Based on its size, our best guess is that it´s rocky and has some atmosphere, but not a thick gaseous envelope, like Neptune,” Agol stated. Even though each super-Earths around Kepler 62 are generally small for their masses to be calculated, the astronomers assume they may be made up of rock and water. 

“Kepler-62e probably has a very cloudy sky and is warm and humid all the way to the Polar Regions. Kepler-62f would be cooler, but still potentially life-friendly,” stated Harvard astronomer and co-author Dimitar Sasselov. “The good news is — the two would exhibit distinctly different colors and make our search for signatures of life easier on such planets in the near future.” Lead author Lisa Kaltenegger, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) and the CfA, thought life of these kinds of planets. 

Kepler Telescope

“There may be life there, but could it be technology-based like ours? Life on these worlds would be under water with no easy access to metals, to electricity, or fire for metallurgy. Nonetheless , these worlds will still be beautiful blue planets circling an orange star — and maybe life´s inventiveness to get to a technological stage will surprise us ,” Kaltenegger stated . 

Astronomers think that the number of possible habitable planets is much more than previously thought. A group from Penn State´s Department of Geosciences said that if we were to look at 10 of the nearest small stars, we would probably find about four potentially habitable planets.
Via: redorbit.com


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