NASA's Kepler spacecraft has detected its first known exoplanet orbiting in its star's habitable zone. Kepler-22b orbits its star in the narrow region where liquid water is potentially possible on its surface.
Stars like the Sun boil and seethe, because the interior energy generated in them cannot escape quickly enough, and then convection vibrations resulting in light variations happen, asteroseismologist Victoria Antoci and her colleagues wrote recently.
The US Space Agency are calling it the first confirmed alien world of its kind. Any similarities to the fictional planet Tatooine in Star Wars end, however; the agency says it's thought to be an uninhabitable cold gas giant, similar to Saturn or Neptune
The Kepler spacecraft is scheduled to launch on Friday at 11 p.m. The telescope craft will search out the stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region of the Milky Way for more than three years looking for dips in brightness.
Are we alone on Earth? Or are there many more Earths like ours, inhabited by humans, or lesser evolved forms? NASA is launching its Kepler mission tomorrow Friday, 6 March, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to muse on these mysteries.
Comparative timeline of Earth and Kepler 452B's age
A team of astronomers, including one from the University of British Columbia, has confirmed the existence of a new "Super-Earth" planet in a galaxy far, far away.
NASA's Kepler mission has discovered a world where two suns set over the horizon instead of just one. The planet, called Kepler-16b, is the most "Tatooine-like" planet yet found in our galaxy and is depicted here in this artist's concept with its two stars.
NASA comparison of Earth and Kepler 452B
The artist's concept depicts Kepler-69c, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star like our sun, located about 2,700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.
Diagram of the habitable zones that both Earth and Kepler 452B inhabit
OUT OF THIS WORLD: A NASA artist's conception of what Kepler-186f, the first Earth-size planet spotted orbiting in another star's habitable zone, looks like is shown in a picture released Thursday by the space agency.
NASA artist's rendering of newly discovered planet Kepler-20e