Kepler 22-b: Earth-like planet confirmed
2011 12 07

From: bbc.co.uk



Astronomers have confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet in the "habitable zone" around a star not unlike our own.

The planet, Kepler 22-b, lies about 600 light-years away and is about 2.4 times the size of Earth, and has a temperature of about 22C.

It is the closest confirmed planet yet to one like ours - an "Earth 2.0".

However, the team does not yet know if Kepler 22-b is made mostly of rock, gas or liquid.

During the conference at which the result was announced, the Kepler team also said that it had spotted some 1,094 new candidate planets - nearly doubling the telescope’s haul of potential far-flung worlds.

Kepler 22-b was one of 54 exoplanet candidates in habitable zones reported by the Kepler team in February, and is just the first to be formally confirmed using other telescopes.

Will the elite go?

More of these "Earth 2.0" candidates are likely to be confirmed in the near future, though a redefinition of the habitable zone’s boundaries has brought that number down to 48. Ten of those are Earth-sized.

’Superb opportunity’
The Kepler space telescope was designed to look at a fixed swathe of the night sky, staring intently at about 150,000 stars. The telescope is sensitive enough to see when a planet passes in front of its host star, dimming the star’s light by a minuscule amount.

Kepler identifies these slight changes in starlight as candidate planets, which are then confirmed by further observations by Kepler and other telescopes in orbit and on Earth.


* Stares fixedly at a patch corresponding to 1/400th of the sky
* Looks at more than 155,000 stars
* Has so far found 2,326 candidate planets
* Among them are 207 Earth-sized planets, 10 of which are in the "habitable zone" where liquid water can exist
Kepler 22-b lies 15% closer to its sun than the Earth is to our Sun, and its year takes about 290 days. However, the planet’s host star puts out about 25% less light, keeping the planet at its balmy temperature that would support the existence of liquid water.

The Kepler team had to wait for three passes of the planet before upping its status from "candidate" to "confirmed".

"Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet," said William Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at Nasa’s Ames Research Center.

"The first transit was captured just three days after we declared the spacecraft operationally ready. We witnessed the defining third transit over the 2010 holiday season."

The results were announced at the Kepler telescope’s first science conference, alongside the staggering number of new candidate planets. The total number of candidates spotted by the telescope is now 2,326 - of which 207 are approximately Earth-sized.

In total, the results suggest that planets ranging from Earth-sized to about four times Earth’s size - so-called "super-Earths" - may be more common than previously thought.

As candidates for planets similar to Earth are confirmed, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Seti) has a narrower focus for its ongoing hunt.

"This is a superb opportunity for Seti observations," said Jill Tarter, the director of the Center for Seti Research at the Seti Institute.

"For the first time, we can point our telescopes at stars, and know that those stars actually host planetary systems - including at least one that begins to approximate an Earth analogue in the habitable zone around its host star.


Source: bbc.co.uk



Related Articles
Earth-like planet ’may not exist’: Goldilocks just a fairytale?
Could ’Goldilocks’ planet be just right for life?


Latest News from our Front Page

VOTER FRAUD: Was the Scottish Independence Referendum Rigged to Fail?
2014 09 20
Was voter fraud committed during the Scottish Independence referendum? It has been confirmed that the names of 10 people were already crossed off a voter list prior them voting inside a polling station. According to reports, the Glasgow City Council confirmed that there were ten cases of suspected electoral fraud occurring at polling stations following the Scottish referendum vote on the 18th. ...
Scandinavians Split Over Syrian Influx
2014 09 20
This exemplifies the insanity of Scandinavia. The narrow victory of the left-leaning Social Democratic Party in Sweden’s elections last Sunday marked a broad shift in its politics. But a new coalition government is unlikely to reconsider one of the country’s most challenging policies: its response to the Syrian civil war. Sweden has taken an open-door approach to people fleeing the conflict, ...
The Israel lobby in United Kingdom - Who Runs Britain?
2014 09 20
Who runs British politics? Who in Britain supports all the wars the UK has been involved in? The Israel Lobby in the UK - Full Documentary By Peter Oborne from Dispatchees Links from Youtube: Zionist attack on western civilization Reed Douglas - The Controversery of Zion Source: youtube.com The cowardice at the heart of UK relationship with Israel Close friends and allies: Prime Minister David Cameron ...
Another Palestinian Mass Grave Discovered, Evidence of Massacre
2014 09 20
Another mass grave discovered, evidence of 1948 Judaic holocaust by bullets, knives and bludgeons against Palestinians. The Israeli military admits to have been surprised by the abilities of Palestinian resistance fighters during its recent war on the Gaza Strip. A top Israeli military official says he’s impressed by the training of Palestinian resistance fighters from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad groups. He ...
Russian Media to be owned by Russians
2014 09 20
Comment: Russian media by and for Russians? Wow, revolutionary! I guess they are stick of foreign oligarchs and zionist with dual citizenship. Duma seeks limits on foreign ownership of Russian media companies A group of opposition lawmakers have prepared a bill that orders Russian mass media companies to have at least 80 percent of their stock held by Russian investors. The bill is backed ...
More News »