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2012/01/06

Kepler 22-b: Earth-like Planet Confirmed

Kepler 22-b: Earth-like Planet Confirmed:

Astronomers have confirmed the existence of a nearly Earth-sized planet in the "habitable zone" around a star not unlike our own
According to BBC News,
"The planet, Kepler 22-b, lies about 600 light-years away and is about 2.4 times the size of Earth, and models suggest it has a temperature of about 22 Celsius (72 F). It is the closest confirmed planet yet to one like ours - an "Earth 2.0". However, the team does not yet know if Kepler 22-b is made mostly of rock, gas or liquid. 


(The planet, shown here in an artist's conception, circles its host star in 290 days)



During the conference at which the result was announced, the Kepler team also said that it had spotted some 1,094 new candidate planets - nearly doubling the telescope's haul of potential far-flung worlds. Kepler 22-b was one of 54 exoplanet candidates in habitable zones reported by the Kepler team in February, and is just the first to be formally confirmed using other telescopes.

More of these "Earth 2.0" candidates are likely to be confirmed in the near future, though a redefinition of the habitable zone's boundaries has brought that number down to 48. Ten of those are close to Earth-sized but so far all of the confirmed planets are larger than Earth.
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