The final frontier just got some new potential homesteads.
Astronomers have found eight new planets that might meet the conditions to support life, orbiting around their stars at a distance where liquid water could exist. The scientists, led by Guillermo Torres of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, used a computer program to calculate the bodies are statistically probable to be planets.
The group studied candidates first identified by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which trails the Earth as it circles the sun, busily snapping pictures of more than 150,000 stars outside our solar system to suss out worlds that look like ours. A thousand planets outside the solar system have now been verified, NASA announced today.
Kepler, launched in 2009, was sent into space to find out how common Earthlike planets are by scanning a 3,000 light-years-wide patch of the Milky Way galaxy. Bodies that might be habitable are known as “Goldilocks” planets -- not too hot and not too cold for water to flow.
One of the planets in the study led by Torres has a 97 percent chance of being in that ideal zone. Unfortunately, further study is going to be tough. Kepler-442b, as the planet is called, is 1,100 light years away.