Will they host life?
Astronomers have found eight more worlds properly situated from their parent stars for liquid surface water, a condition which, at least on Earth, is believed to be key for life to evolve.
The newly found planets include two that are more similar to Earth than any other exoplanets found to date, astronomers said at a press conference Tuesday at the 225th American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, Wash.
“Most of these planets have a good chance of being rocky, like Earth,” astronomer Guillermo Torres, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., said in a statement.
Torres and colleagues found the planets by analyzing data collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. The Earth-cousins include Kepler-438b, located about 470 light-years away, and Kepler-442b, located about 1,100 light-years from Earth. Kepler-438b has a diameter just 12 percent bigger than Earth and Kepler-442b is one-third larger.
The planets orbit so-called red dwarf stars, which are smaller and cooler than the sun.
Source: DiscoveryNews.com. NASA