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Space & Astronomy

More distant Earth-sized worlds discovered

By T.K. Randall
June 9, 2018 · Comment icon 8 comments

Planets appear to be very common around other stars. Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser/N. Risinger
Astronomers have found a solar system 160 light years away with three planets roughly the size of our own.
The discovery adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that rocky terrestrial planets like the Earth are commonplace across the cosmos and that, by extension, life may be too.

The new extrasolar worlds, which were picked up using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, are around 160 light years away. They were found by looking for the telltale dip in the light from their parent star that occurs when a planet happens to pass in front of it.
Of the three worlds, one is almost exactly the same size as the Earth while the other two are slightly larger. All of them however are too close to their star to offer suitable conditions for life to develop.

A second solar system with two 'super Earth' planets was also discovered at around the same time.

Determining exactly what kind of atmospheres these extrasolar worlds might have however will need to wait until after NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope launches in two years' time.

Source: Independent | Comments (8)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Tom the Photon 5 years ago
Excellent news, increasing the probability that many other inhabitable (according to our needs) planets are out there.  Add to this NASA's latest revelations about chemistry on Mars and the likelihood of intelligent alien life grows more realistic.  Now if only we can preserve life on this planet for a few more years, perhaps one day we’ll make contact…
Comment icon #2 Posted by kartikg 5 years ago
Anyone here knows why the planets found are always close to the star? Is it due to the capability of the instrument or some physics that most planets end up in close proximity to their stars? 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Harte 5 years ago
May have something to do with both. The star is a red dwarf. Might not be large enough to amass the material needed for planetary formation further out. And, the further out from the star the planet is, the less of a light "dip" you get when the planet transits the star. Harte
Comment icon #4 Posted by Seti42 5 years ago
Think about all the planets we miss because their orbital plane isn't lined up right from our POV. I hope we come up with a method of detection that doesn't rely on solar transit dimming.
Comment icon #5 Posted by bison 5 years ago
There are two methods of detecting exoplanets, that don't rely on their being on an alignment of star, planet, and Earth.  Radial velocity tracks the tiny movements of the star, as a planet's gravity pulls at it, first from one side, then from the other. Ultra-high precision measurement is required. Direct detection of the planet is sometimes possible, and this method is being improved all the time. Competing, much brighter, light from the star is the main problem to be overcome, with this method.    
Comment icon #6 Posted by pallidin 5 years ago
I recall many years ago in my childhood, when extrasolar planets were not yet discovered, that the thought of there being other planets outside of our solar system was considered absurd by some members of the scientific community. Now it's formally accepted. For myself it will be stunning what the new technologies of space telescopes will be able to image, as well as spectral analysis of those planets atmospheres.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Seti42 5 years ago
Good to know, thanks. That does make sense, but I hadn't heard that such methods were viable. They always talk about the transit dimming method when new discoveries are revealed.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 5 years ago
It is going to be exiting when ESO's aptly named Extremely Large Telescope becomes operational, which should be in 2024. (artist impression)

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