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Two Earth-sized planets spotted, and they're hot as hell (news)

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posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 05:13 AM
ASTRONOMERS have for the first time they have spotted two Earth-sized worlds orbiting a Sun-like star, in another big advance in the search for so-called exoplanets.

I hadn't seen this posted yet, so I thought I would share.

One of the planets is just three per cent bigger than Earth and the other is 13 per cent smaller, which would make it a bit smaller than Venus, they reported online in the British science journal Nature. The planets are inferred to have a rocky composition similar to Earth's but they orbit so close to their star, Kepler-20, that the temperature is likely to be far too high to nurture life. The larger planet, Kepler-20f, completes a "year" in 19.5 days and may have a thick water-vapour atmosphere, while the smaller one, Kepler-20e, zips around the star in just 6.1 days. Spotting the pair is a technical feat.

They are the smallest exoplanets to be found since the first world beyond our Solar System was officially detected in 1995. Their distance, too, is enormous: Kepler-20 is about a thousand light years from Earth and reaching them would take more than four million years. So far 709 planets have been netted in 534 star systems, according to a tally compiled by the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. Almost all are gas giants or are located too close or too far from their star to allow water, the stuff of life, to exist in liquid form. Only three have been confirmed as being rocky and orbiting in the "Goldilocks zone," where the temperature is balmy. Two of the three are Gliese 581d and HD 85512b, orbiting stars that are cooler and smaller than the Sun. The third is Kepler-22b, unveiled on December 5, which is 2.4 times the size of the Earth, orbiting a Sun-like star every 290 days.

The two new discoveries were found by a team led by Francois Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, using NASA's Kepler orbiting space telescope. A $60 million mission launched in March 2009, Kepler monitors more than 150,000 stars for tiny wobbles in light. This could signal a planet which is passing in front of the star and is thus dimming the light reaching the telescope. So far, Kepler has notched up 2326 "planet candidates" - sightings that could turn out to be exoplanets if they are confirmed by further observations. NASA astronomers assign the name of Kepler and a number to a star where the telescope has found exoplanets. The exoplanets are then identified by a lower-case letter in order of discovery - for instance Kepler-12b is the second exoplanet to have been found orbiting the star Kepler-12.< br />
My thoughts on Earth's close-as-can-be Twin is not far off being found, it would be interesting if it were closer than any of these planets. It's only a matter of time.

edit on 21-12-2011 by Violence because: updating, adding source.

posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 05:29 AM
I don't know much about the Kepler telescope, but it seems like it is only aimed at systems that are thousands or at least hundreds of light years away.

Maybe someone more knowledgeable can fix my ignorance on the matter?

posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 05:36 AM
reply to post by Violence

They are getting closer to finding a planet with life like ours.

From November 8 2011 in

A pair of researchers from the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Princeton University have developed a new means by which, in the future and with the requisite telescopic power, it may be possible to detect artificial lights from cities on other planets inhabited by extraterrestrial intelligence. In the meantime, say Professors Abraham Loeb and Edwin Turner, the technique can be put to the test by searching for artificially illuminated objects in our own Kuiper Belt.

5 years from now and we have the first picture of a alien planet with city lights and perhaps a dyson sphere
..I hope

posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 05:38 AM
If these Kepler discoveries are confirmed by light and or wobble deviations I have to wonder by what means they are determining the planets' makeup. I suppose I would have to read the full article(s) to find out what else they are measuring and how. I think its fascinating the instruments precision can detect a star's luminous deviation from a thousand light years away, they must also be using some type of spectroscopy to measure light frequencies emitted by the star and possibly by the planets but I have to wonder just how much conjecture is involved in planetary makeup.

posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 05:45 AM
Very interesting indeed. Just two weeks after the discovery of the other one.

BBC video report:

posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 05:54 AM
reply to post by Vandalour

I've read that article on several websites, and frankly my skepticism alarm went off so consider. Earth's city lights are not visible from the moon, you can clearly see them in orbit, we have ISS videos, but searching failed to turn up just how far away they are visible. Several considerations have to be looked at.

In our solar system in order to see the dark side of planets would mean the sun would also be in view, and the light from the sun would drown out any dim artificial light, as well as seeing a crescent with no sun in view the light reflected from the sun off of the body would still drown out artificial lights. Consider the megalopolis in NE America, the brightest bank of city lights from Wash. DC to Boston, I can't get a distance they can be seen from.

Now consider there is no way we can see Kuiper Belt objects void of sunlight reflection, since we can't get on the other side of them, (maybe Voyagers someday?).

Now that said there probably are telescopic and or spectroscopic means of making measurements like that but I doubt they would be visual.
edit on 21-12-2011 by Illustronic because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 06:00 AM
reply to post by Vandalour

I honestly don't think that is going to happen in the next 5 years. Illustronic pretty much summed it up in his post, have another read over that article Vandalour and tell me if it's at all plausible factoring in the things Illustronic stated.

posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 06:31 AM
great. more ***holes in the universe.

posted on Dec, 21 2011 @ 09:59 AM
In case anybody cares, there's been an ongoing discussion here:


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