Kepler-22b: “This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin”

By the time its last catalogue of exoplanet candidates was released in February,  Nasa’s Kepler space observatory, launched in March 2009, first light in April 2009, had identified 1,235 planetary candidates – and 54 candidates within the habitable zone. The Kepler team have now identified 2,326 planet candidates – of those, 207 are approximately Earth-size, 680 are super Earth-size, 1,181 are Neptune-size, 203 are Jupiter-size and 55 are larger than Jupiter.  And there are now 48 planet candidates in their star’s habitable zone There …

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Of proto- [and exo-] planets. And falling satellites…

Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft remains in orbit around the 530km-wide proto-planet Vesta – the second most massive object in the main asteroid belt.  And they’ve released this cool video constructed from the images they’ve obtained so far. Via JPLnews Here’s an image of the south pole of Vesta from a distance of about 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers). [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA] And speaking of exo-planets, scientists using the orbiting Kepler observatory have identifed the first circumbinary planet, the first planet known to definitively orbit two …

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“Currently the number of exoplanets stands at close to 600…”

[Image credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser].  As the BBC reported, astronomers using the HARPS spectrograph on the 3.6-metre telescope at the European Southern Observatory [ESO]’s La Silla Observatory in Chile recently announced the discovery of more than 50 new exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, including sixteen super-Earths.  It’s the subject of ESOcast 35: 50 New Exoplanets. From the ESO science release In the eight years since it started surveying stars like the Sun using the radial velocity technique HARPS has been used to discover more …

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“Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth-sized.”

The Irish Times has a detailed report noting the confirmed discovery of 6 large exo-planets closely orbiting a star in the system, Kepler-11, approximately 2,000 light years from Earth. Even more remarkable are reports that the Kepler space observatory, launched in March 2009, first light in April 2009, has now identified 1,235 planetary candidates – and 54 candidates within the habitable zone – from the data for 156,453 stars observed from the beginning of the science observations on 2 May through 16 September 2009. From the Nasa …

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