Extrasolar planets are being discovered by the hundreds, but are any of these newfound worlds really like Earth? A planetary system recently discovered by the Kepler spacecraft will help resolve this question.
The system of three planets, each just larger than Earth, orbits a nearby star called EPIC 201367065. The three planets are 1.5-2 times the size of Earth, and the outermost planet orbits on the edge of the so-called â€œhabitable zone,â€ where the temperature may be just right for liquid water, believed necessary to support life, on the planetâ€™s surface.
â€œWeâ€™ve learned in the past year that planets the size and temperature of Earth are common in our Milky Way galaxy,â€ explains University of Hawaii astronomer Andrew Howard. â€œWe also discovered some Earth-size planets that appear to be made of the same materials as our Earth, mostly rock and iron.â€Read more