NASA Scientists Discover Earth-Like planets

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kepler-62

Planets located 1200 Light years away

NASA scientists have recently discovered two new Earth-like planets in the habitable orbit of a Sun-like star, 1,200 light years away; which could potentially host life. For those who’re confused, a light year is a measure of distance, not time.

Located in the northern constellation Lyra, these planets are two of the five outermost planets circling a star that’s slightly smaller, cooler, and more orange than the Sun. Found by NASA’s Kepler aircraft, this look alike of Sun, has been named Kepler-62.

The two planets are Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f, both orbiting the star in its habitable zone. By habitable zone I mean that they’re located in a zone where the planet can attain lukewarm temperatures necessary for liquid water.

Both of them are bigger than Earth, but not by that much; Kepler-62e is sixty per cent bigger and Kepler-62f is forty per cent bigger than the Earth. While Kepler-62e completes one revolution in 122 days, Kepler-62f does the same in 267 days.

super-earth

David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics says that Kepler-62f has the right size, the right temperature and is the best planet the Kepler aircraft has ever found. Comparatively, Kepler-62e is slightly warmer and probably habitable.

But there habitability depends on a lot of factors which aren’t known as of now: the masses of the planets, their compositions, whether they have atmospheres or not, and what those supposed atmospheres consist of.

For example, Kepler-62e could have a thick blanket of air containing huge amounts of carbon dioxide, making its surface temperature completely uninhabitable. But it’s all a speculation right now.

Comparing with the properties of Earth, Dr. Kaltenegger and her colleagues concluded that both of them were probably ocean worlds with humid, cloudy skies.

“Any life on them would probably be aquatic, but it might even be cooler life than we have here. Looking at the oceans, we find a lot of interesting life-forms there”, she said.

With improvements in technology, we’re finally finding worlds that we actually started looking for. People involved in scientific fields are already searching for Earth 2.0 and with this discovery, it might just be somewhere within their reach.

oceanic-earth

 It’s really fascinating how sci-fi novels, films and TV Shows have always had this “finding a new home” element in themselves and now those imagined scenarios are becoming ever-so-slightly possible in real life.

But the fact that they’re in the same solar system begs the question of interplanetary travel, which would be one hell of an experience. That doesn’t mean that the Kepler aircraft is actually suggesting which planet to go live on, it’s only suggesting that some planets are similar to Earth.

We don’t know how many planets we haven’t yet discovered. We don’t know how many other planets could possibly be located in the hospitable zones from their stars. But since we’ve found two earth-like planets in one solar system itself, who knows how many Super-Earths we might find in the future.

All of this feels like fantasy, but it could possibly become true. Even though this need to find more places in the universe that look like ours will probably never end, the sightings we find will continue to amaze us.

Akhil Thakur

Image Source [http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HyKIVTmOT-0/UXDmC-nMrNI/AAAAAAAAB44/LIoaQwMNswQ/s1600/742839main_Kepler62-69lineupEarth-full.jpg]

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