Reports: 2 other exoplanets expected to be similar to Earth


This artist’s conception depicts an Earth-like planet orbiting an evolved star that has formed a stunning “planetary nebula.” Earlier in its life, this planet may have been like one of the eight newly discovered worlds orbiting in the habitable zones of their stars. David A. Aguilar (CfA)

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(CNN) — The Kepler Space Telescope discovered eight new planets in habitable distance from their stars.

According to astronomers with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), they are not too close or too far from their stars, so that they might have water instead of ice or steam. They are about the right size, and they get a decent amount of sunlight.

They also might have the kinds of surface that could bear life.

“Most of these planets have a good chance of being rocky, like Earth,” lead author Guillermo Torres of the CfA said in a release.

“We don’t know for sure whether any of the planets in our sample are truly habitable,” second author David Kipping of the CfA said in a release. “All we can say is that they’re promising candidates.”

Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b are the most similar to Earth of any known exoplanets to date.

(An exoplanet is a a planet orbiting a star that is not our sun, according to Merriam-Webster.)

And even if there was confirmation, Christine Pulliam with the CfA said teams are “still a couple of generations of telescope development away,” from even seeing them, much less visiting.

Kepler-438b is 470 light-years away and Kepler-442b is 1,100 light years away, according to CfA.

“That’s a little far away,” another author said, “We need to get to Mars first.”

Still it’s very exciting just to discover them and to be closer to identifying a “second” Earth.

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