(Image Source: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

 


BY HARUMENDHAH HELMY

ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN

 

 

The New York Times calls it “a holiday gift to the cosmos.” NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has finally found the first Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system.

Located about 1,000 light years away from us, the two planets -- Kepler 20e and 20f -- are close to Earth in size, which is exciting news in the search for habitable worlds. But--they’re way too close to their sun and, as a result, are way too hot for life-as-we-know-it. (Video: NASA)

So then — why is this finding so exciting? The New York Times talks to astronomers who say -- it’s confirmation it’s possible to find Earth-sized exoplanets -- that’s a term for planets outside our solar system.

“...the discovery showed that Kepler could indeed find planets as small as our own and was an encouraging sign that planet hunters would someday succeed in the goal of finding Earth-like abodes in the heavens. Since the first Jupiter-size exoplanets … were discovered nearly 15 years ago, astronomers have been chipping away at the sky, finding smaller and smaller planets. ‘We are finally there,’ said … an astronomer...”

Discovery News says finding the planets was, quote, “a feat.”

“Kepler monitors more than 150,000 stars for tiny wobbles in light. The wobbles signal a planet as it passes in front of the star and dims the light reaching the telescope.”

And there’s another reason why Kepler’s latest discovery is so significant. Gothamist says the solar system where Kepler 20e and 20f orbit is, quote, “blowing scientist's minds” because it shows there’s more than one way to make up a system.

“Ours, for example, features larger and more gaseous planets further away from the sun, but Kepler-20's system features five planets of alternating size. ‘Now we're realizing that there's a larger variety of solar systems out there,’ said … a research scientist with NASA.”

In an article titled “The Really, Truly, Newest, Earthiest Planets Yet — Until the Next Ones,” TIME says the Kepler spacecraft will keep searching for that perfect Earth-like planet. It quotes an astronomer who’s confident they’ll find it soon.

“‘Two weeks ago, … we announced a planet in its star's habitable zone but which was much bigger than Earth. Today, we're announcing a planet that's the same size as Earth. What we want is the best of both — a true twin of Earth. Hopefully … we’ll find it within the next year.’”

NASA Finds Earth-Sized Planets Beyond This Solar System

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Dec 21, 2011

NASA Finds Earth-Sized Planets Beyond This Solar System

(Image Source: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

 


BY HARUMENDHAH HELMY

ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN

 

 

The New York Times calls it “a holiday gift to the cosmos.” NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has finally found the first Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system.

Located about 1,000 light years away from us, the two planets -- Kepler 20e and 20f -- are close to Earth in size, which is exciting news in the search for habitable worlds. But--they’re way too close to their sun and, as a result, are way too hot for life-as-we-know-it. (Video: NASA)

So then — why is this finding so exciting? The New York Times talks to astronomers who say -- it’s confirmation it’s possible to find Earth-sized exoplanets -- that’s a term for planets outside our solar system.

“...the discovery showed that Kepler could indeed find planets as small as our own and was an encouraging sign that planet hunters would someday succeed in the goal of finding Earth-like abodes in the heavens. Since the first Jupiter-size exoplanets … were discovered nearly 15 years ago, astronomers have been chipping away at the sky, finding smaller and smaller planets. ‘We are finally there,’ said … an astronomer...”

Discovery News says finding the planets was, quote, “a feat.”

“Kepler monitors more than 150,000 stars for tiny wobbles in light. The wobbles signal a planet as it passes in front of the star and dims the light reaching the telescope.”

And there’s another reason why Kepler’s latest discovery is so significant. Gothamist says the solar system where Kepler 20e and 20f orbit is, quote, “blowing scientist's minds” because it shows there’s more than one way to make up a system.

“Ours, for example, features larger and more gaseous planets further away from the sun, but Kepler-20's system features five planets of alternating size. ‘Now we're realizing that there's a larger variety of solar systems out there,’ said … a research scientist with NASA.”

In an article titled “The Really, Truly, Newest, Earthiest Planets Yet — Until the Next Ones,” TIME says the Kepler spacecraft will keep searching for that perfect Earth-like planet. It quotes an astronomer who’s confident they’ll find it soon.

“‘Two weeks ago, … we announced a planet in its star's habitable zone but which was much bigger than Earth. Today, we're announcing a planet that's the same size as Earth. What we want is the best of both — a true twin of Earth. Hopefully … we’ll find it within the next year.’”

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