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Beyond Earthly Skies

Earth-Sized Planet in the Habitable Zone

18 Apr 2014, 12:17 UTC
Earth-Sized Planet in the Habitable Zone
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“In space there are countless constellations, suns and planets; we see only the suns because they give light; the planets remain invisible, for they are small and dark. There are also numberless earths circling around their suns, no worse and no less than this globe of ours.”- Giordano Bruno, 1584In recent years, many planets have been found within the habitable zone - the region around a star where the temperatures are just right for a planet to sustain liquid water on its surface. By analysing data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, a team of astronomers have announced the discovery of the most Earth-like planet yet detected. Kepler is a planet-hunting telescope that measures subtle changes in the brightness of stars to see if an orbiting planet is crossing in front of a star. This newfound planet, dubbed Kepler-186f, is the first confirmed Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star. “This is the first definitive Earth-sized planet found in the habitable zone around another star,” said Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center, and lead author of the paper published on April 17 in the journal Science.Figure 1: Artist’s depiction of Kepler-186f, the ...

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