NASA discovers 10 Earth-like planets outside solar system
NASA detected 219 potential new planets just outside our solar system. Of them, 10 are rocky and Earth-like, existing in their solar system's Goldilocks Zone -neither too close to the star nor too far away- therefore perfect for water to exist. These Earth-sized planets are habitable as water is a key factor for life existence. Does it mean that we are not alone?
NASA tweeted: "Scientists using @NASAKepler have identified 219 potential new worlds!" This discovery brings the total number of suspected planets outside our solar system, the exoplanets, found by Kepler space telescope to over 4,000. This is Kepler's eighth planet catalogue update and also the most thorough survey of its data. Kepler was launched into the orbit around the Sun in 2009.
Susan Thompson, a Research Scientist at SETI Institute that searches for signs of extra-terrestrial life, stated: "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?"
NASA stated there are 4,034 planet candidates that have been identified by Kepler, including 2,335 verified exoplanets. Of them, about 50 are Earth-like that fall under the habitable zone category; over 30 such planets have been verified. Kepler data also suggests two distinct size small planet groupings. NASA added, "Both results have significant implications for the search for life."
Perez said, "Kepler today tells us, indirectly, that we are probably not alone." Stressing the importance of Kepler, he said its data set is unique as it contains a population of Earth-like, habitable planets with size and orbit roughly same as Earth. He added understating the frequency of these planets will help NASA design future missions to directly image another Earth.
Kepler was launched for understanding the Milky Way's demographics - the number of stars similar to the Sun, stars hosting planets, planets in habitable zone, and Earth-like planets that can host life. NASA says for every possible planet Kepler detects, there are 100-200 that lurk beyond its reach. Using Kepler catalogue, scientists can estimate how many stars can host 'Earth 2.0'.