Nasa discovers 10 new Earth-size exoplanets

2017-06-20 08:05
An artist rendering of the 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and in the habitable zone of their star identified by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope. (Nasa/JPL-Caltech via AP)

An artist rendering of the 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and in the habitable zone of their star identified by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope. (Nasa/JPL-Caltech via AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Nasa revealed on Monday 10 new rocky, Earth-sized planets that could potentially have liquid water and support life.

The Kepler mission team released a survey of 219 potential exoplanets - planets outside of our solar system - that had been detected by the space observatory launched in 2009 to scan the Milky Way galaxy.

Ten of the new discoveries were orbiting their suns at a distance similar to Earth's orbit around the sun, the so-called habitable zone that could potentially have liquid water and sustain life.

Kepler has already discovered 4 034 potential exoplanets, 2 335 of which have been confirmed by other telescopes as actual planets.

The 10 new Earth-size planets bring the total to 50 that exist in habitable zones around the galaxy.

"This carefully-measured catalogue is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy's most compelling questions - how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?" said Susan Thompson, a Kepler research scientist and lead author of the latest study.

The latest findings were released at the Fourth Kepler and K2 science conference being held this week at Nasa's Ames research centre in California.

The Kepler telescope detects the presence of planets by registering minuscule drops in a star's brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it, a movement known as a transit.

The findings were compiled from data gathered during the first four years of the mission, which scientists processed to determine the size and composition of the planets observed.

The scientists found that the newly discovered planets tended to fall into two distinct categories - smaller, rocky planets that are usually around 75% bigger than Earth, and much larger, gaseous planets similar in size to Neptune.

Nasa said the latest catalogue is the most complete and detailed survey of potential exoplanets yet compiled. The telescope has studied some 150 000 stars in the Cygnus constellation, a survey which Nasa said is now complete.

"The Kepler data set is unique, as it is the only one containing a population of these near Earth-analogues - planets with roughly the same size and orbit as Earth," said Mario Perez of Nasa's Astrophysics Division. "Understanding their frequency in the galaxy will help inform the design of future Nasa missions to directly image another Earth."

The mission ran into technical problems in 2013 when mechanisms used to turn the spacecraft failed, but the telescope has continued searching for potentially habitable planets as part of its K2 project.

As of next year, NASA will continue its scan of the galaxy using Kepler's successor, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, which will spend two years observing the 200,000 brightest nearby stars for Earth-like worlds.

Scientists also hope the James Webb Space telescope, which will replace the Hubble telescope in 2018, will be able to detect the molecular make-up of atmospheres of exoplanets, including the possibility of finding signatures of potential life forms.

Read more on:    nasa  |  us  |  space exploration

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Play with your pet when you're not at home

Many pets are alone at home during the week while their owners are at work. So what do these animals get up to while they’re home alone?

 
 

Paws

How to get rid of fleas
12 Cool cat facts
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.