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New Earth-like planets found orbiting a Sun-like star

Date:
April 18, 2013
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
A team of scientists has discovered two Earth-like planets in the habitable orbit of a Sun-like star. Using observations gathered by NASA's Kepler Mission, the team found five planets orbiting a Sun-like star called Kepler-62. Four of these planets are so-called super-Earths, larger than our own planet, but smaller than even the smallest ice giant planet in our Solar System. These new super-Earths have radii of 1.3, 1.4, 1.6, and 1.9 times that of Earth. In addition, one of the five was a roughly Mars-sized planet, half the size of Earth.

This artist's conception depicts Kepler-62e, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star smaller and cooler than the sun, located about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. Kepler-62e orbits it's host star every 122 days and is roughly 60 percent larger than Earth in size. Scientists do not know if Kepler-62e is a waterworld or if it has a solid surface, but its discovery signals another step closer to finding a world similar to Earth.
Credit: Image is courtesy of NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

A team of scientists, including Carnegie's Alan Boss, has discovered two Earth-like planets in the habitable orbit of a Sun-like star.

Their work is published in Science Express.

Using observations gathered by NASA's Kepler Mission, the team, led by William Borucki of the NASA Ames Research Center, found five planets orbiting a Sun-like star called Kepler-62. Four of these planets are so-called super-Earths, larger than our own planet, but smaller than even the smallest ice giant planet in our Solar System. These new super-Earths have radii of 1.3, 1.4, 1.6, and 1.9 times that of Earth. In addition, one of the five was a roughly Mars-sized planet, half the size of Earth.

Kepler-62 is one of about 170,000 stars observed by the Kepler Space Telescope, with a mass about 69% of that of our Sun. The Kepler Space Telescope reveals for planets orbiting a star by detecting a small, temporary dimming of the star as a planet passes between it and the telescope.

The two super-Earths with radii of 1.4 and 1.6 Earth radii orbit their star at distances where they receive about 41% and 120%, respectively, of the warmth from their star that the Earth receives from the Sun. The planets are thus in the star's habitable zone; they have the right temperatures to maintain liquid water on their surfaces and are theoretically hospitable to life.

Theoretical modeling of the super-Earth planets, Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f, suggests that both could be solid, either rocky--or rocky with frozen water.

"This appears to be the best example our team has found yet of Earth-like planets in the habitable zone of a Sun-like star," Boss said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. William J. Borucki, Eric Agol, Francois Fressin, Lisa Kaltenegger, Jason Rowe, Howard Isaacson, Debra Fischer, Natalie Batalha, Jack J. Lissauer, Geoffrey W. Marcy, Daniel Fabrycky, Jean-Michel Dιsert, Stephen T. Bryson, Thomas Barclay, Fabienne Bastien, Alan Boss, Erik Brugamyer, Lars A. Buchhave, Chris Burke, Douglas A. Caldwell, Josh Carter, David Charbonneau, Justin R. Crepp, Jψrgen Christensen-Dalsgaard, Jessie L. Christiansen, David Ciardi, William D. Cochran, Edna DeVore, Laurance Doyle, Andrea K. Dupree, Michael Endl, Mark E. Everett, Eric B. Ford, Jonathan Fortney, Thomas N. Gautier III, John C. Geary, Alan Gould, Michael Haas, Christopher Henze, Andrew W. Howard, Steve B. Howell, Daniel Huber, Jon M. Jenkins, Hans Kjeldsen, Rea Kolbl, Jeffery Kolodziejczak, David W. Latham, Brian L. Lee, Eric Lopez, Fergal Mullally, Jerome A. Orosz, Andrej Prsa, Elisa V. Quintana, Dimitar Sasselov, Shawn Seader, Avi Shporer, Jason H. Steffen, Martin Still, Peter Tenenbaum, Susan E. Thompson, Guillermo Torres, Joseph D. Twicken, William F. Welsh, and Joshua N. Winn. Kepler-62: A Five-Planet System with Planets of 1.4 and 1.6 Earth Radii in the Habitable Zone. Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1126/science.1234702

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "New Earth-like planets found orbiting a Sun-like star." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418140957.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2013, April 18). New Earth-like planets found orbiting a Sun-like star. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418140957.htm
Carnegie Institution. "New Earth-like planets found orbiting a Sun-like star." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418140957.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

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