NASA astronomers have discovered a planet twice the size of Earth just outside our solar system, and it’s within a zone that could allow it to have liquid water exist on its surface.
The finding comes from data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope. HD 21749b, as the new planet is called, is about three times Earth’s size, 23 times its mass, and is located within its star’s habitable zone.
The planet has an orbit of 36 days and a surface temperature of about 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It’s a very exciting discovery due to how it was found, its temperate orbit and because planets of this size seem to be relatively uncommon,” University of Chicago graduate student Adina Feinstein, the lead author of a paper on the discovery, said in a NASA news release.
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, a satellite that has only been observing space for three months, found the planet, as well as two other planets.
Its size is unusual for an exoplanet as few planets that orbit close to their stars are more than 1.5 times as large as Earth. Scientists said the system might hold an additional planet that is about the size of Earth that has an orbit of only eight days.
By: Maytinee Kramer