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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Kepler mission: one in five stars could host a habitable planet

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Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

Kepler candidates arranged by size.
(Credit: SETI)

NASA has announced the discovery of 833 new Kepler candidate planets, with the latest findings suggesting the number could be in the billions.

The number of counted Kepler planets — from data collected from NASA's Kepler space telescope, a telescope dedicated to seeking out Earth-like planets that are potentially habitable to humans — has risen 29 per cent since January 2013. The latest findings resulting from analysis of the data include 833 new candidate planets, bringing the total number to 3538 since the first was confirmed two years ago.

Although this is pretty exciting, the Kepler team, gathered this week at the Kepler Science Conference in California, had more news to share. New data and analysis suggests that most of the 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy have at least one planet, and one in five stars is orbited by a planet up to twice the size of Earth in the star's temperate zone — that is, where the planet's surface temperature could be suitable for liquid water.

"What this means is when you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye. That is amazing," said UC Berkeley doctoral candidate Erik Petigura, who led the analysis.

Of course, this doesn't mean that the planets are habitable; they might not have the right atmosphere, for example.

The team examined 42,000 stars close to the size of the Sun and found 603 candidate planets. Of these planets, only 10 were Earth-size and in the temperate zone. Berkeley professor of astronomy Geoffrey Marcy said, "With tens of billions of Earth-like planets in each galaxy, our entire universe must contain billions of billions of Earth-like planets ... Until now, no one knew exactly how common potentially habitable planets were around Sun-like stars in the galaxy."

Since its 2009 launch, the Kepler telescope has been monitoring the brightness of over 150,000 stars, taking a photograph every 30 minutes. Astronomers examine the photographs for planets passing directly in front of the stars. Although Kepler's days of planet hunting came to an end when it malfunctioned in July, NASA still has over a year's worth of photographs to analyse.


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KenP1 posted a comment   

Amazing how Aussies and Kiwi's are away with the fairies and pay little attention to these amazing discoveries. Hopefully the arrogant whites might now realise they to are only mere atoms in the reality of the Supreme Creators vast Universe and might get over their insane belief they should commandeer all the assets of this planet for their few royal Illuminati overlords and demonic out worlder masters. Either that or we remind them all in no uncertain manner they to are stardust as much as we all are and non can lay claim to being superior to another regardless of what damn planet of galaxy one may herald from. I too have been around since before the world was so know a thing or two about such stuff.


ToddB posted a comment   

The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke


KatherinK posted a comment   

Unless these planets also collided with molten sister planets during their solar systems' accretion period, so that they ended up with plate tectonics fueled by a double-heavy molten iron core, tidal forces spurred by an idyllically lightweight satellite comprised of the thrown-off crust, and niche-building climatic diversity afforded by the ensuing development of mountain ranges, continental weather zones, underwater salt conveyors, and the like; I would not call a single one of these planets "earthlike."

We shouldn't take for granted the once-in-a-zillion cosmic lottery we've won. Perhaps there are a few earth-and-moon-like systems out there, but if so they won't be a dime a dozen. More like once in a blue moon.


StephenC8 posted a reply   

Even if it is a zillion to one that earth exists, that still means there are thousands of earth like planets( if a "zillion" follows trillion)


JacobV posted a comment   

I knew it!!
I hope they will find one of these planets!


Chan FuiW posted a reply   

Of course it is, you're probably observed by another planet, they eventually invented telescope so advance enough that can directly watch over us living in our planet.

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