Kepler-62e, 62f and 69c: Earth-like planets that could host life discovered by NASA
NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered two new planetary systems.
- Kepler-62 system
- Kepler-69 system
The Kepler-62 system has five planets:
Kepler-62 system has five planets: 62b, 62c, 62d, 62e and 62f orbiting a Sun-like star called Kepler-62. Kepler-62e, 62f and 69c are the super-Earth-sized planets. NASA is not terming these planets “Earth-like” exactly; but they are being described as “Super Earths” that are anywhere from 40 to 70 % larger than our planet.
Star Kepler-62 is not Sun-like: just 2/3 the size of the Sun, cooler, older, and only 1/5 as bright.
The five planets of the Kepler-62 system orbit a star classified as a K2 dwarf, measuring just two-thirds the size of the sun and only one-fifth as bright. At seven billion years old, the star is somewhat older than the sun. It is about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra.
- Kepler-62f is only 40% larger than Earth, making it the exo-planet closest to the size of our planet known in the habitable zone of another star orbits every 267 days. Kepler-62f is likely to have a rocky composition. There’s also the possibility of water.
- Kepler-62e about 60% larger than Earth, orbits every 122 days in the the habitable zone’s inner edge. Could be either rocky or a water world. Kepler-62e was the first of these habitable zone planets identified.
- Kepler-62b, Kepler-62c and Kepler-62d, orbit every 5, 12, and 18 days, respectively, making them very hot and inhospitable for life as we know it. Two are larger than Earth and one is about the size of Mars.
The Kepler-69 system has two planets:
Star Kepler-69 is a sun-like star (G-type, 93% the size of the Sun, 80% as luminous, about 2,700 light-years from Earth).
- Kepler-69c is 70% larger than the size of Earth, and orbits in the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. Astronomers are uncertain about the composition of Kepler-69c.It orbits in 242 days, resembling the orbit of Venus. Described as potentially a “Super Venus,” situated on the hotter side of the habitable zone.
- Kepler-69b: About twice the size of Earth and, orbiting every 13 days, is toasty hot, not even close to the habitable zone.
Scientists do not know whether life could exist on the newfound planets, but their discovery signals we are another step closer to finding a world similar to Earth around a star like our sun.
Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2017