Kepler planet

An artist’s conception highlights the worlds detected by NASA’s Kepler probe. (NASA / JPL-Caltech Illustration)

Astronomers say they’ve used NASA’s Kepler space telescope to discover 10 Earth-sized planet candidates where life could lurk.

The 10 prospects are a part of a larger pool of 219 exoplanet candidates announced today.

One of the newly detected candidates, KOI 7711, appears to be a world only 30 percent wider than Earth with an orbit that lasts about one Earth year.

“7711 is the closest to the Earth in terms of our current measurements of its size and how far away it is from its star. … However, there’s a lot we don’t know about this planet, and as a result, it’s hard to say whether it’s really an Earth twin,” Susan Mullally, a Kepler science team member at the SETI Institute, said today during a news conference.

Today’s additions to the planetary lineup aren’t the only new revelations from the Kepler mission.

Caltech researchers also laid out evidence that the family tree for relatively small planets splits into two distinct branches: Earth-sized planets and gaseous mini-Neptunes. The study equates the discovery to biologists finding out that mammals and reptiles are two different branches of the animal kingdom.

“Astronomers like …read more

Source:: GeekWire

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