posted on Jan, 7 2013 @ 06:45 PM
LONG BEACH, California – New estimates suggest that roughly 50 percent of sun-like stars could have planets the size of Earth orbiting in a place
where liquid water might exist on their surface.
The results also indicate that almost all sun-like stars have a planetary system of some sort.
“If you could randomly travel to a star, it will have planets,” said astronomer Francois Fressin from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for
Astrophysics, during a press conference today here at the American Astronomical Society 2013 meeting.
The finding uses data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which is currently scanning 150,000 stars in the constellation Cygnus for evidence of
planets. Astronomers analyzed this data using a program called Transiting ExoEarth Robust Reduction Algorithm (TERRA) to try and estimate the
percentage of planets that Kepler is missing.
Kepler looks for the very tiny dimming of a star’s light that can be detected when an exoplanet passes in front of it, causing a mini eclipse. The
telescope is good at detecting the dimming from a larger Jupiter-sized planet, but a tiny Earth-like planet will cause such a slight change that
Kepler might miss it. TERRA found that Kepler had missed about 37 Earth-like planets in its data analysis, which means it’s missing about 25 percent
of these worlds.
The findings suggested that smaller extrasolar planets form more frequently than larger ones, a result consistent with previous research. But TERRA
found that the trend doesn’t hold true past a certain point. Planets twice the diameter of Earth are about as common as those that are Earth-sized
or smaller, a result that astronomers hadn’t previously seen.
Ok, I had to post this. I know I have posted similar threads in the past but the news just keeps on coming thick and fast? How many now in a year? It
amazes me that after all this time of looking into deep space the ansers may be right on our doorstep after all. Exciting times, well, for a nerd like