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Response to bananas (Original post)

Thu Apr 18, 2013, 02:16 PM

11. Kepler spies water worlds

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered two planets that are the most similar in size to Earth ever found in a star’s habitable zone — the temperate region where water could exist as a liquid.

The finding, reported online today in Science1, demonstrates that Kepler is closing in on its goal of finding a true twin of Earth beyond the Solar System, says theorist Dimitar Sasselov of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who is a member of the Kepler discovery team.

Both planets orbit the star Kepler-62, which is about two-thirds the size of the Sun and lies about 1,200 light years (368 parsecs) from the Solar System. The outermost planet from the star, Kepler-62f, has a diameter that is 41% larger than Earth’s and takes 267 days to circle its star. The inner planet, Kepler-62e, has a diameter 61% larger than Earth’s and a shorter orbit of 122 days.

Kepler detected the planets by recording the tiny decrease in starlight that occurs when either of them passes in front of their parent star. Astronomers used those measurements to calculate the planets’ relative size compared to that star.

http://www.nature.com/news/kepler-spies-water-worlds-1.12825

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