Kepler 22b - a planet with Earth-like potential for carrying life
NASA finds new planet Kepler 22b outside solar system with temperature right for life
NASA announced finding an Earth-like planet outside outside the solar system that could have have the right temperature to support life. As Brian Vastag reported :
The search for Earth-like planets circling other stars is heating up, but the latest discovery is not too hot at all. It's not too cold, either. Instead, the temperature on the newly announced planet Kepler-22b could be just right for life about 72 degrees, a perfect spring day on Earth.
Spied by NASA's Kepler space telescope, Kepler-22b marks the best candidate yet for a life-bearing world beyond our solar system, project scientists said Monday.
If it has a surface, it ought to have a nice temperature, said Kepler's lead scientist, Bill Borucki, during a teleconference Monday.
It's right in the middle of the habitable zone, said Natalie Batahla, a Kepler scientist, referring to the narrow, balmy band of space around any star where water can be liquid. The other exciting thing is that it orbits a star very, very similar to our own sun.
The actual temperature on Kepler-22b hinges on whether the planet has an atmosphere, which, like a blanket, would warm the surface. Even without an atmosphere, Borucki said, the planet would likely be warm enough to host liquid water on its surface.
If it has a surface.
Kepler 22b is in what scientists call the Goldilocks zone, which is the band of distance away from a star which could allow for liquid water. As AP explained:
The new planet named Kepler-22b has key aspects it shares with Earth. It circles a star that could be the twin of our sun and at just about the same distance. The planet's year of 290 days is even close to ours. It likely has water and rock.
The only trouble is the planet's a bit big for life to exist on the surface. The planet is about 2.4 times the size of Earth. It could be more like the gas-and-liquid Neptune with only a rocky core and mostly ocean.