2 Earth-size planets spotted around distant star, boosting chances of finding life
Scientists have found two Earth-sized planets orbiting a star outside the solar system, an encouraging sign for prospects of finding life elsewhere.
This illustration provided by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics shows artist’s renderings of planets Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f compared with Venus and the Earth. They’re the smallest planets found so far outside the solar system. Scientists are seeking Earth-sized planets as potential homes for extraterrestrial life, said Fressin, who reports the new findings in a paper published online Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2011 by the journal Nature. (AP Photo/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
The discovery shows that such planets exist and that they can be detected by the Kepler spacecraft, said Francois Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They’re the smallest planets found so far that orbit a star resembling our sun.
Scientists are seeking Earth-sized planets as potential homes for extraterrestrial life, said Fressin, who reports the new findings in a paper published online Tuesday by the journal Nature. One planet’s diameter is only 3 per cent larger than Earth’s, while the other’s diameter is about nine-tenths that of Earth. They appear to be rocky, like our planet.
But they are too hot to contain life as we know it, with calculated temperatures of about 1,400 degrees and 800 degrees Fahrenheit (760 Celsius and 425 Celsius), he said.
Any life found on another plant may not be intelligent; it could be bacteria or mould or some completely unknown form.