Two Earth Size Planets Found Outside our Solar System
December, 20 2011
NASA'S Kepler mission has found the first two Earth size planets known to man just outside of our galaxy orbiting a sun like star. The planets, Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, are the first that we have found that are close to Earths size, which NASA reports is an important factor to find life similar to ours. Unfortunately though, they are too close to their sun to be at what scientists call the goldilocks zone where the temperature is not too hot and not to cold therefore could support life and have water on the surface of the planet.
"This discovery demonstrates for the first time that Earth-size planets exist around other stars, and that we are able to detect them," Francois Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., said in a statement.
The Kepler mission, which was started to find the frequency of Earth size planets within the habitable zone of solar-like stars, was named after Johannes Kepler a 17th century German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer in 2009. Since its inception the Kepler mission has found 33 confirmed planets, but these two are the first of their small size which makes them unique.
The first planet Kepler-20e (the red one), closest to their sun, is 0.87 times the radius of Earth with a rocky surface and an average temperature of around 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The second planet Kepler-20f (the grey one) is further away from their sun and is around 1.03 times the Earth's radius with an average temperature of about 800 degrees Fahrenheit. They are located 950 light years away from Earth and are part of five planets found orbiting the star. With conditions that hot it's impossible for life to live on the surface of the planets. At least as we know it. There are rumors already though, about a possible underground civilization that may be thriving there where it's cooler and water may be present.
Discoveries such as this show us just how big the universe is and what the chances for alien life really are. There is almost no chance that there isn't intelligent life out there and while this discovery may not have any on it we really don't know much about alien life then what is here on Earth. There very well could be something there. Just not what we're expecting.