Planet hunting is a new and exciting area of astronomy barely two decades old that, thanks to missions such as NASA’s Kepler telescope, is revealing more and more data about intriguing new worlds outside of our Solar System, known as extra-solar planets or exoplanets.

Earth

Only in the last 20 years has sufficient technology been available to allow us to categorically prove the existence of these planets. While we’re still some way off seeing Discovering new Earths detailed imagery of direct exoplanet observations, projects like NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) will bring Earth-size exoplanets into view and even study the composition of their atmospheres.

Earth

The number of bizarre and familiar new worlds just waiting to be discovered is staggering, if estimates prove to be accurate. In our Milky Way alone there could be hundreds of billions of planets, and so far we’ve found just a few thousand. The ultimate goal for planet hunting is to find an Earth-analogous planet that could help ascertain whether life could potentially grab a foothold outside of our Solar System.

Earth

The key to discovering an Earth like planet is to find those that are within the habitable or ‘Goldilocks’ zone of a star, the area within which the conditions are thought to be ‘just right’ for water to form. Kepler-22b was the first such planet to be found and, while it is now thought to have a thick atmosphere that may be inhospitable to life, it was very influential in helping to spur the discovery of new Earth-like planets.

Earth

One example of these was Gliese 581 g, a planet no more than four times the mass of Earth sitting right in the middle of the habitable zone of its host red dwarf star. While a year on this planet is only 37 days, observations suggest that Gliese 581 g may be a suitable planet on which life could reside.

Gliese 581 g
Gliese 581 g

Another potentially life-harbouring planet is HD 85512 b, a so-called ‘Super-Earth’, like Gliese 581 g, with a mass at least 3.6 times that of our home planet but with a temperature that could potentially allow for the existence of liquid water, which is thought to be one of the key components for life to form or survive.

Earth

Over the next few years, as our methods of finding and characterising exoplanets become more and more sophisticated, it’s likely that more Earth-like planets like these will be discovered all over the Milky Way.

Subscribe to our newsletter for more such articles. Let us know your thoughts about this. If you have any questions and suggestions then let us know in the comments section below.

 

 

5 COMMENTS

  1. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m inspired!

    Very helpful information particularly the final part :
    ) I deal with such info much. I used to be seeking this particular info for a long time.

    Thanks and good luck.

  2. I have read some good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting.
    I surprise how much effort you place to make this type of magnificent informative website.

  3. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d most
    certainly donate to this superb blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to brand new updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

  4. Hi there, I found your site by way of Google at the same time as looking for a related matter, your site got here up, it looks
    great. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
    Hi there, simply became aware of your blog via Google, and found that it
    is really informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels.
    I will appreciate if you happen to continue this in future.
    Lots of folks might be benefited from your writing.
    Cheers!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here