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Habitable Planet Reality Check: The Student-Discovered KIC-7340288b

18 Mar 2020, 14:00 UTC
Habitable Planet Reality Check: The Student-Discovered KIC-7340288b
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Graduate student Michelle Kunimoto (University of British Columbia) led the effort to reprocess data from Kepler’s primary mission which discovered KIC-7340288b. (UBC)
While NASA’s Kepler spacecraft was shutdown well over a year ago, there are still teams of scientists around the globe combing through its huge, nine-year database trying to tease out more exoplanetary discoveries that were missed by the mission’s initial analysis. Using updated data processing techniques to sift through Kepler’s primary mission database, graduate student Michelle Kunimoto (University of British Columbia) announced the discovery of 17 previously missed transiting exoplanets with the publication of a peer-reviewed paper in The Astronomical Journal on February 25, 2020. Among these new finds was a super-Earth-size world that appears to orbit in its parent star’s habitable zone (HZ). So what are the prospects that this newly discovered exoplanet is potentially habitable?

Background
The new HZ find by Kunimoto et al. orbits the star known by its Kepler Input Catalog designation, KIC-7340288. Also known as 2MASS J18523595+4255114, it is a dim G magnitude 15.8 star located in the constellation of Lyra inside the field of view of Kepler’s four-year primary mission. Analysis of existing photometry for this star suggests that it ...

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