NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has discovered three new planets that are larger than our Earth. All the planets are believed to be orbiting in the Goldilocks Zone, a region that is neither too far nor too close to its Sun and its a place where water can exist in liquid form, an essential property for the existence of life.
All the three planets are orbiting around a star named EPIC 201367065. Scientists call it cool red M-dwarf as it is half in size and has half the mass of our sun. The star is orbiting nearly 150 million light years far from us and still is among the top ten nearest stars known to have transiting planets.
“A thin atmosphere made of nitrogen and oxygen has allowed life to thrive on Earth. But the nature is full of surprises. Many exoplanets discovered by the Kepler mission are enveloped by thick, hydrogen-rich atmospheres that are probably incompatible with life as we know it,” said Ian Crossfield, the University of Arizona astronomer who led the study.
The three newly discovered planets are 2.1, 1.7 and 1.5 times the size of the Earth. While the planet with 1.5 times Earth’s radii being the farthest, planet with the largest size (2.1) is the innermost planet. Scientists believe that the outermost planet has the highest chance of containing water in the liquid form. However, all the planets are under scrutiny of scientists, and it will take time to confirm the presence of water, ultimately the lifeforms on these exoplanets.
Planet hunter, NASA’s Kepler telescope has been on its toll recently and has found several new exoplanets. With these finding comes the higher probability that we’ll be able to find lifeform existing on a planet other than our Earth one day.
“We’ve learned in the past year that planets the size and temperature of Earth are common in our Milky Way galaxy,” Howard said. “We also discovered some Earth-size planets that appear to be made of the same materials as our Earth, mostly rock and iron.”