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Kepler Mission Analysis Shows Reduced Number of Earth-sized Planets in Field of View


          Keplerstarsa (1)


A large number of worlds found by NASA's Kepler alien planet-hunting space telescope are probably significantly larger than scientists previously estimated, a new study suggests. Using a galaxy similar to our own Milky Way, the image above shows the scale of the distances for the sample of stars with planet candidates described in a new study by scientists using the Kitt Peak National Observatory Mayall 4-meter telescope . The circled dot represents the position of the sun in the Milky Way, and the stippled cone shows how far away the new candidate stars are (2800-7000 light years), compared to the size of our galaxy. 

The Kepler Space Telescope has spotted more than 2,700 potential exoplanets since its launch in 2009, and scientists using the Kitt Peak National Observatory categorized the home stars of many of those planet candidates for the past three years. In particular, the researchers made detailed follow-up observations of 300 of the stars Kepler found likely to be harboring exoplanets.

The Kepler satellite, in orbit around the sun, stares at a region of the northern hemisphere sky sandwiched between the bright stars Vega and Deneb. Attached to the telescope is the largest imaging camera ever flown into space—16 million pixels—the only instrument on the telescope and the one used to monitor all the stars in its search for planets. Planets are detected if they pass in front of their parent sun, causing a very slight dip in the star’s brightness. When this dip repeats periodically, it reveals the presence of a possible planet, the length of the planet’s “year”, and other information.




"One of the main findings of this initial work is that our observations indicate that most of the stars we observed are slightly larger than previously thought and one quarter of them are at least 35 percent larger," astronomer and leader of the study Mark Everett said in a statement. "Therefore, any planets orbiting these stars must be larger and hotter as well. By implication, these new results reduce the number of candidate Earth-size planet analogues detected by Kepler."

The Daily Galaxy via http://www.noao.edu/news/2013/pr1305.php, Physorg.com, and Space.com

Image credits: NASA, NOAO/AURA/NSF


Hold it! There was a recent study that showed that the nearest candidates for habitable planets is only 22 light years away, this states that they are thousands of light years away. The scientific community doesn't share data on recent discoveries? Get your acts together.

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