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Astronomers find possible near-Earth-like planet in archived Kepler data

9 Jun 2020, 15:36 UTC
Astronomers find possible near-Earth-like planet in archived Kepler data
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Most of the exoplanets found by the Kepler space telescope are Neptune-size worlds orbiting close to their host stars where temperatures are too extreme for water, a key ingredient for life, to exist as a liquid (bottom left). Nearly all the Earth-size planets found in habitable zones orbit close to small red dwarf stars that may, or may not, be conducive to life (bottom right). KOI-456.04, while larger than Earth, orbits in the sweet spot of a very Sun-like star (upper right). Image: MPS/René Heller (adapted by Astronomy Now)
Astronomers have found evidence for an exoplanet less than twice the size of Earth orbiting a very Sun-like star at a distance almost identical to Earth’s, completing one orbit every 378 days in the heart of the host sun’s habitable zone where temperatures would be conducive to the presence of liquid water and, possibly, life.
The planet, dubbed KOI-456.04, was found using a novel statistical analysis of archived data from NASA’s now-retired Kepler space telescope, not by direct observation of the host star’s dimming as the planet transited the disc of its host as viewed from Earth. But the researchers say they have high confidence – 85 percent – the world ...

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