Orbital telescope “Kepler” discovered ten previously unknown potential Earth twins in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra, and about two hundred other exoplanets, announced NASA scientists during a press briefing at the Research center named Ames in Silicon valley.
“The closest analogue of the Earth may be a planet yet unconfirmed KY.7711 found during the preparation of a full catalogue of data that Kepler has collected in the first four years of its work. This planet orbits a star similar to the Sun in size and temperature, and is located in the center of the “zone of life”. On the other hand, it is unclear whether she has any atmosphere and whether it is able to support life,” said Susan Thompson (Susan Tompson) from the Institute of search for extraterrestrial intelligence SETI in mountain view (USA).
Today Mario Perez (Mario Perez), head of the mission “Kepler” NASA, and his colleagues presented to the public full catalogue of data obtained by the space telescope in the first period of its operation from may 2009 to may 2013.
As explained Perez, this directory contains about 220 new planets, ten of which are potential counterparts of the Earth, as well as data on nearly four thousand of the planets, open the “Kepler” earlier. In total, unable to open 49 earth-like objects in the “zone of life” and has a small size.
Reanalysis of the data, according to the astronomer, allowed the members of the research team “Kepler” not only to find new planets, but also to unique statistical data on the number of planets orbiting stars in the milky Way and their typical appearance. This information, as noted by Courtney Dressing (Courtney Dressing), an astronomer at the California Institute of technology in Pasadena (USA), will help scientists to understand how often there are twins of the Earth and any other planets likely there is extraterrestrial life.
As said Benjamin Fulton (Fulton Benjamin), a colleague Dressing room, already the first analysis of these data led the scientific team “Kepler” found two new types of planets. “Watching super-earths, we have long puzzled over which of them are analogues of the Earth, and some planets oceans or miniature gas giants. Analysis of these data shows that in fact these planets are divided into two isolated groups is a relatively small super-Earth, whose mass is on average 1.8 times more than Earth and mini-Neptune, whose mass is three to four times more,” explains Fulton.
According to him, the complete set of data from the “Kepler” shows that the super-Earth and mini-Neptune clearly separated from each other — large rocky planets with a mass in two or three of the Land simply does not exist. According to planetary scientists, this is due to the fact that the super-Earth and mini-Neptune formed in different conditions. The first occur in the warm inner regions of protoplanetary disks, where almost no hydrogen and helium, and the second in the cold outer layers of the embryos of stars, where gas is much more.
Such a clear distinction, as scientists believe, contributes some clarity to the search for extraterrestrial life major analogues of the Earth, as is now becoming obvious that the former large super-Earth, which became a mini-Neptune today, are unlikely to support life because of extreme pressures in their environment.
As the scientists told in an interview with RIA Novosti, the current reserves of fuel on Board, “Kepler” will be enough to work in orbit until October 2018. By that time it will launch its “heir”, the Observatory TESS, however, the joint observations are unlikely to lead as TESS and Kepler will look at different parts of the sky.
“The main limiter of length of life “Kepler” are stocks of fuel on Board, which we cannot measure directly. While we are confident that the telescope will last at least another two observation campaigns with a length of 90 days each and, perhaps, will survive until the beginning of 2019, which will allow him to endure before the release of TESS in orbit. Another thing is that the life expectancy of the “Kepler” will not affect the TESS mission, as the first new telescope will operate in observation mode and look at the night sky of the southern hemisphere,” explained Perez.
On the other hand, “James Webb”, “heir” of Hubble, will directly use the data that was collected and continues to collect “Kepler”, and try to obtain data on the composition of the atmospheres of the potential twins of the Earth. As scientists hope, the first full pictures of such planets will be in the middle of 2030-ies, when will be launched the new generation of orbital telescopes with improved optics.