NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has discovered 20 new potentially habitable planets

There are more Earth-like planets out there than we’ve ever imagined.

In fact, rough estimates made by astronomers suggest that there could be more than 100 BILLION Earth-like planets in the Milky Way Galaxy that could be home to life. Think that’s a big number?

According to scientists, there are approximately 500 billion galaxies in the known universe, which means there are around 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (5×1022) habitable planets.

In order to find them all, we need much better technology than we have at our disposal now.

A new analysis of data gathered by the Kepler space telescope has recently revealed 20 new candidates capable of harboring life.

The list a number of planets that orbit stars like our sun.

Some have relatively long orbital periods, similar to Earth’s, and others much shorter, only months or Earth weeks.

One of them is especially interesting.

 

Some of the newly found planets take a relatively long time to complete a single orbit around their star, with the longest one taking 395 Earth days and others taking Earth weeks or months.

The fastest orbit is 18 Earth days.

This is very different to the very short “years” we see around smaller stars with habitable planets like Proxima Centauri, notes The New Scientist.

Referred to as KOI-7923.01 (where KOI is the acronym for Kepler Object of Interest), it is 97 percent the size of our planet, but it has a slightly cooler average temperature, mainly due to the distance it maintains with its star -which is also not as hot as our sun.

However, the latter does not express an impediment to the existence of liquid water on its surface, which according to our belief, is essential for life as we know it.

Far from being a warm alien world, KOI-7923.01 would have regions similar to the tundra of Earth.

“If I had to choose one to send a ship, this exoplanet would not be a bad option,” says Coughlin.

According to New Scientist, in order to create the list, the Kepler team mixed up signals from potential exoplanets, many of which had already been confirmed and a few fake ones.

The ‘fake planets’ helped check for errors and rule out erroneous signals, winnowing the list down to 20 candidates, including one just a little bigger than Mercury.

“I believe that this is a much-improved catalog, so I’m eager to explore it further,” says Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Lab at Arecibo Observatory.


(H/T The New Scientist)

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