A surprise announcement was just made today by the University of Oviedo and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) that researchers have discovered two brand new planetary systems, and one of these new systems is reported to contain three planets that are the exact size of Earth.
According to Phys.org, the important discovery of these new planetary systems was made possible by the K2 mission that was undertaken with the use of NASA’s Kepler satellite, with work that began in earnest in November, 2013.
The two systems were first observed through eclipses that were spotted around their own stars, with the first planetary system located around red dwarf type M3V star K2-239. It can be found in the Sextant constellation and is 160 light years away from our own sun. As this system is reported to feature three rocky planets that are the same size as Earth, astronomers are taking notice.
The three Earth-sized planets all have quite short orbits around their sun, with the longest orbit of one of the planets being completed in just 10.1 days.
The second red dwarf star that was detected with a new planetary system is K2-240, and this particular star features two large planets that are double the size of Earth.
Researchers have determined that the atmospheric temperature of these two red dwarf stars approaches between 3,450 and 3,800 K which is much less than our own sun, with only half of its intensity.
It is being reported that when it comes to the temperature of the three planets that are the same size as Earth, this is where the similarity ends as they would almost certainly have surface temperatures that are much higher than our planet owing to the intense radiation given by the red dwarf star they orbit.
According to SciTech Daily, John Grunsfeld, from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, explained that the Kepler spacecraft has yielded many surprises, and with the discovery of three new rocky planet,s we may be closer now to learning whether these other planetary systems may harbor life of some kind.
“The Kepler spacecraft has certainly turned out to be a rock star of science. The discovery of these rocky planets in the habitable zone brings us a bit closer to finding a place like home. It is only a matter of time before we know if the galaxy is home to a multitude of planets like Earth, or if we are a rarity.”
The new study on the discovery of two new planetary systems holding three planets the same size as Earth can be read in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.