Scientists Have Found An Earth-like Planet In The Old Kepler Data

A discovery in the search for habitable exoplanets was made in an unexpected place: the year before the data were supposed to be retrieved. When scientists combed through early data from the Kepler space telescope, they found an earth-like planet, Kepler 1649c, buried in the early data. Its radius is only 1.06 times that of our home planet, and its red dwarf host provides about 75 percent of our planet’s light — not big, but enough to put it in a habitable zone.

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You can summarize the error as a limitation of current technology. A working group reviewed the work of the Robovetter algorithm used to detect false positives in the search for planets and realized that the code had inadvertently ignored 1649c.

Even if nothing goes wrong, these parameters do not guarantee that the earth will support life. Red dwaves tend to explode and damage life chances. Researchers also don’t know the composition of the atmosphere, which could rule out life even if all other conditions were ideal. That being said, NASA wants to expand the criteria for applicable areas. Just don’t expect the star in question to go any time soon when it’s 300 light years away.

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Even if the planet is hostile, the discovery could be useful. It supports growing evidence that such planets are relatively common around red dwarfs. The discovery also provides more details about the entire star system, such as its high stability and the possibility of a third planet. Even if the search for planets is still far off, it will be useful for years to come.