New ’super-Earth’ detected by NASA’s Kepler mission
A new Earth-sized planet has been discovered orbiting a star just 352 light years away, but there’s very little chance of it hosting life because the surface is a toasty 1,627C (2,960F), the Daily Mail newspaper reported Thursday.
Found lurking in the Kepler star field, it has been named Kepler-21b and its parent star, the snappily titled HD 179070, is so close it can be viewed with a home telescope, the report said.
This latest addition to our star charts was spotted by NASA’s Earth-orbiting Kepler probe, which has found hundreds of new planets since its launch in 2009.
As UK astronomer Dr. Heather Couper acknowledges, the discovery of Kepler-21b is one more reason why these are such exciting time for star gazers, the newspaper said.
She told MailOnline, “The technology is getting really cool and the Kepler mission has been incredibly successful.
“We’re now detecting lots of super-earths and Kepler-21b is one of them.”
Although similar in size to Earth, it only lies 3.7million miles from its parent star, so the chances of finding life there are incredibly remote, the Daily Mail said. By comparison, Mercury is 35million miles from our Sun, and even that is too close for life.
Dr. Couper, according to the Daily Mail, said, “Kepler-21b is only 1.6 times the radius of the Earth, so it’s probably a rocky planet. The problem is that it’s far too close to its parent star to sustain any life.
“It goes round the star in 2.8 days, so it’s going to be be searingly hot. Mercury goes round in 88 days and that’s also searingly hot.”