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Beyond Earthly Skies

Adding More Earth-Like Planetary Candidates

8 Feb 2015, 22:00 UTC
Adding More Earth-Like Planetary Candidates
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Using 3 years (Q1 to Q12) of data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, Rowe et al. (2015) report the discovery of 855 additional planetary candidates, bringing the current total to 3697. Of these planetary candidates, about 130 receive less than twice the flux Earth gets from the Sun (Sᴇ) and about 1100 are less than 1.5 times the Earth’s radius (Rᴇ). Potentially habitable planets are those that meet both criteria (< 2 Sᴇ and < 1.5 Rᴇ). This latest addition brings the number of candidate potentially habitable planets to over a dozen. The reason they are termed planetary candidates is because additional observations are required to confirm if they are bona fide planets. Nevertheless, most of the planetary candidates are expected to be true planets.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a terrestrial planet.In this latest addition of planetary candidates, all of the candidate potentially habitable planets orbit cool K or M-dwarf stars. KOI-3138.01 is a Mars-sized (Rᴘ = 0.57 Rᴇ) planetary candidate that receives a Mars-like amount of flux (Sᴘ = 0.47 Sᴇ). It has an 8.7 day orbit around a very cool M-dwarf star which has an estimated temperature of 2703 K. KOI-3284.01, confirmed as a bona fide planet and ...

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