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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.
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.
Finally, The CIA Admits Covering Up JFK Assassination 2015-10-09 23:56
Suspicions that the CIA covered up JFK’s murder have finally been confirmed, according to an explosive Politico report out this week. Fifty-two years after the President’s death, declassified documents show that the CIA were in communication with alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before JFK’s murder in 1963, and they were monitoring his mail since 1959.
Not only that but John McCone, who was Chief of the ...
More Great Media Moments in Muslim Achievement: Headscarf Lady Wins Bakeoff In Britain 2015-10-09 23:18
Last month, America rejoiced when a 14-year-old Muslim lad in Irving, Texas discovered time, thus solving the universe’s ongoing problem that everything happens at once. This month, Britain is exulting that a Muslim lady can cook better than most Brits. From the New York Times:
Muslim Winner of Baking Contest Defies Prejudice in Britain
By Dan Bilefsky, OCT. 8, 2015
LONDON — Prime Minister ...
Israelis Declare Carrying Firearms Helpful in Preventing 'Lone Wolf' Attacks 2015-10-09 22:39
In the wake of several “lone wolf” attacks, the Israeli government is encouraging citizens to carry personal firearms with them at all times while in public. The attacks have been conducted by Palestinians wielding nothing more than knives, but have struck terror into the heart of Israel.
During the attacks, which are being conducted in reprisal for a long series of ...
Russians drop leaflets on ISIS, implying America and Israel is behind them 2015-10-09 4:38
Dire warning: The leaflets (pictured) being dropped by Russian jets warn people to get out of the zone of 'special operations' - and one implies that terror group al-Nusra Front are backed by America and Israel
Syrian army helicopters have dropped tens of thousands of leaflets on ISIS and rebel fighters, warning them to get out now and 'don't make it even ...