Kepler-22b; a planet with ability to uphold life

NASA has found a planet on which life can be sustained. This planet is situated at a right distance from its star, which is very much similar to our own sun that has given it the ability to sustain water to exist. This newly found planet is named as “Kepler-22b” situated about 600 light years away.

This new finding has brought the discovery number of planets close to 2326 by Kepler Space Telescope in its first 16 months of operation. Kepler observatory was launched in March 2009 costing about $600 million and uses “transit method” to find the planets.

Comparison of our solar system with that of the star system containing Kepler-22b
Comparison of our solar system with that of the star system containing Kepler-22b

“We’re getting closer and closer to discovering the so-called ‘Goldilocks planet,'” Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., said during a press conference today.

Kepler-22b is 2.4 times to that of Earth in radius and the temperature is just similar to that of our Earth i.e. approximately 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius), if the greenhouse operates similar to that on Earth. This planet has an orbit of about 290 days around the star.

“This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin,” said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Kepler’s results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA’s science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe.”

“Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet,” said William Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., who led the team that discovered Kepler-22b. “The first transit was captured just three days after we declared the spacecraft operationally ready. We witnessed the defining third transit over the 2010 holiday season.”

Kepler-22b is the first to be confirmed, since February 2011, among 54 planets as to be situated in habitable zone.

This research is going to be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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