Michelle Kunimoto, a student at the University of British Columbia School of Astronomy, discovered 17 new exoplanets, including a potentially inhabited planet the size of Earth, phys.org reported. After examining the data the NASA-Kepler mission collected during its first four-year program, the researcher discovered traces of previously unnoticed objects in locations in the so-called "Goldilocks Zone", where liquid water is on the surface of a rocky planet could exist.
Scientists have found new exoplanets
New knowledge published in the Astronomical Journal includes one of the rarest planets in the universe. The official name KIC-7340288 b, a unique planet discovered by Michel Kunimoto's efforts, is only one and a half times larger than Earth. As is known, such dimensions indicate the presence of a solid, non-gaseous surface on the exoplanet. In addition, the discovered object is in the habitable zone of its star, which significantly increases the chances of discovering organic life on the planet in the future.
However, Kunimoto himself, the candidate of the physical and astronomical sciences, is not so optimistic. According to her, because of the enormous distance that separates us from the unique find, it would take hundreds of thousands of years to get near her star, and only if we could finally tame the speed of light.
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The year on the Earth-like planet is approximately 142 days, which is 0.444 astronomical units (or 0.444 from the distance between the Earth and the Sun). This property brings it a little closer to Mercury from the solar system. However, since the planet's mother star is slightly smaller than our star, the exoplanet receives only about a third of the total light that the earth receives from the sun. The presence of such a property makes the object KIC-7340288 b a really incredible find, since so far only 15 officially confirmed keets discovered by the Kepler telescope have been found in the habitable zone.
Of the remaining 16 new open planets, the smallest object is only two thirds the size of the Earth and thus automatically becomes a champion among all planets previously discovered by Kepler. The sizes of the remaining exoplanets are in the range of up to eight earth diameters.
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To search for all planets, Kunimoto used the many well-known transit method, which measures the amount of light that is shadowed by an exoplanet from the mother star to the earth observer. To find 17 new objects, the scientist had to analyze the data from more than 200,000 stars observed by the famous "Kepler's" mission.
Kunimoto observed the transits of the planets and caused the star's brightness to decrease temporarily. He received information about their size and the time it took for objects to make a complete revolution around their lamp. The student's supervisor, Professor Jamie Matthews, believes that the study can provide his community with information about the frequency of Earth-like objects occurring in the inhabited zone of other stars, thereby informing scientists about the possible location of exoplanets not yet known by humanity were discovered and some of which could be of great interest to modern science