Written by Bella Dalima
07 Jan, 2015 | 4:07 pm
Earth has a few more near-twin planets outside our solar system, tantalizing possibilities in the search for extraterrestrial life.
Astronomers announced Tuesday that depending on definitions, they have confirmed three or four more planets that are about the same size as Earth and are in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold “Goldilocks Zone” for liquid water to form.
These planets are likely to be rocky like Earth, and not gas giants or ice worlds. They get about the same heat from their star as we get from the sun, according to the latest results from NASA’s planet hunting Kepler telescope.
They may be close to Earth in size and likely temperature in the gargantuan scale of the universe, but they aren’t quite close enough for comfort.
Consider two of the new planets, the nearest to Earth discovered to date. If they have atmospheres similar to Earth’s — a big if — one would be a toasty 140 some degrees and the other would hover around zero, said study lead author Guillermo Torres, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Life conceivably could evolve and adapt to those temperatures, he said.
Oh, and they aren’t actually within commuting distance of Earth. Those two are 500 and 1,100 light years away; a light year is 5.9 trillion miles.
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