Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nasa space telescope finds 'twin' of Earth orbiting a distant Sun-like star

  • 'This find will be remembered in 100 years time' - scientists
  • First time a planet of this size has been detected
  • Two planets, one earth-sized, one just smaller
  • 'Important milestone' for Nasa's world-seeking Kepler telescope
By Rob Waugh

Last updated at 7:05 PM on 20th December 2011

A rocky planet the same size as the Earth has been discovered orbiting a star like our sun.
It is the first time a planet of this size has been detected in another solar system. Scientists have hailed the technical achievement of detecting Earth sized ‘exoplanets’ - the technical term for planets outside the solar system - as it increases the chances of finding life-bearing worlds.
Although the planet, Kepler-20f could have a thick water-vapour atmosphere, its surface is believed to be too hot for life.
A planetary line-up depicting the Earth-sized extrasolar planets Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f - alongside Earth and Venus. Kepler-20f may have a watery atmosphere while Kepler-20e is entirely rocky and probably has no atmosphere at all
Kepler 20f has been hailed as a major discovery - it's the first earth-sized planet found orbiting a star like our own Sun

‘This could be an important milestone. I think 10 years or maybe even 100 years from now people will look back and ask when the first Earth-sized planet was found. It is very exciting,' says Dr Fessin

A second planet in the same system, Kepler-20e, is only slightly smaller than Earth and even hotter.
Both worlds circle their parent star closely with 'years' that last just nine and sixteen days respectively.


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