Habitable ‘Super-Earth’ Found


NASA – The most Earth-like planet ever discovered is orbiting a Sun-like star 600 light years away, every 290 days. US’s Nasa (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) said the Kepler space telescope confirmed its first-ever planet – Kepler-22b – in a habitable zone outside our solar system. It is 2.4 times the size of the Earth, putting it in a class known as ” super-Earths”.

“We have now got good planet confirmation with Kepler-22b,” said Bill Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at Nasa Ames Research Center. “We are certain that it is in the habitable zone and if it has a surface, it ought to have a nice temperature,” he said.

Kepler-22b sits in its star’s so-called “habitable zone”, the region where liquid water could exist on the surface. Studies are on to determine if the planet is solid, like Earth, or more gaseous like Neptune. If Kepler-22b has a surface and a cushion of atmosphere similar to Earth’s, its surface temperature would be about 22 degrees Celsius, about the same as a spring day in Earth’s temperate zone. AGENCIES Kepler uncovered 1,094 exoplanets

We don’t know anything about the planets between Earth-size and Neptune-size because in our solar system we have no examples of such planets. We don’t know what fraction are going to be rocky, what fraction are going to be water worlds, what fraction are ice worlds. We have no idea until we measure one and see,” said San Jose State University astronomer Natalie Batalha, deputy science team lead for the Kepler Space Telescope that discovered the star.