Monday 19 January 2015

Kepler-438b and 442b: Are These the Planets We're Looking For?

Tuesday was one of best days for astronomers as they announced that they have discovered eight new planets which are potentially habitable planets and they are further than our solar system. Two of discovered planets are mostly similar to our planet Earth. All these eight planets have been located for the first time in their far-away suns by NASA's Kepler mission. These planets are pretty much in their habitable zone or so called region which is expected to have liquid water existing on the surface of their orbiting planet. However, two of these eight planets are expected to be made out of Rock and similar to Earth.

What are these planets? 

Kepler-438b, which is 12 percent greater than Earth in diameter and made up of 70 percent of being rocky actually lies nearly 475 light-years away. On the other hand, Kepler-442b is expected to be light-years away and nearly one-third larger than Earth. This also has 60 percent chances of being rocky. These new candidates have already been added to the "Hall of Fame" of NASA Kepler for being a potential habitable-zone planet.

All about these promising candidates

Both Kepler-442b and Kepler-438b, orbit red dwarf stars. These stars are not only smaller but also cooler when compared to the sun. Kepler-438b has been expected to circle its star every 35 days but still can receive more than 40 percent light when compared to Earth. According to the parameters, this planet has 70 percent chances of being in the habitable zone of its star.

On the other hand, Kepler-442b usually completes its orbit in about 112 days and can get 2/3rd as lighter as Earth. According to the scientists, there are 97% chances of the planet being in the habitable zone. According to David Kipping, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics and second author on the paper, they are not sure if the planets are habitable based on their samples but still they fall in being the promising candidates.

According to the records, the two most Earth-like planets known were Kepler-186f is 1.1 times the size of Earth and Kepler-62f, which is 1.4 times as big as Earth.

Neighbourhood like Earth: 

At the moment, the data can only help in giving details about the size of the planet, the distance of the planet and the amount of energy it gets from its sun. The data still doesn’t give a clear picture about the actual facts about a planet. However, Kepler-438b is expected to be the closest to Earth. Astronauts have been able to find many planets not only similar to Earth but they are most likely filling up our neighbourhood.

According to NASA, Kepler mission was mainly designed to establish the statistics of Earth-like planets and finding planets similar to stars is no longer rare. Even though there are a promising future in studying these planets, but still it is difficult to find complete information about them. Scientists believe that there are millions and millions of planets in our milky way.

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