How many Earths could there really be in our galaxy? A team of 44 astronomers have landed on what they say is the definitive answer —at least for now.
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The aim of NASA’s Kepler mission was to literally stare into space searching for celestial bodies that varied in size, mass, and even orbit. By staring at one or even multiple patches of space, Kepler was able to identify a planet’s characteristics through a process called the transit method, which when a planet breaks the line of sight between the observed star and the telescope.
And to make this method as efficient as possible, scientists needed to meet two major criteria: an extremely dense field of view and a clear line of sight. Basically, this meant that Kepler needed to continuously monitor the most star-rich patch of space possible without being blocked by the Sun or Earth. And what better place to look than the Cygnus and Lyra constellations, known for their vast array of northern stars.
Using the transit method, Kepler was able to collect data on over 530,000 stars during its nearly decade-long run before retiring. This is where the recent work comes in. Unlike previous studies, which mostly focused on findings from Kepler teams from the SETI Institute, NASA, and ESA incorporated data gathered by Gaia. This mission, which has already observed and measured roughly 1 billion stars, is using a host of instruments to make a 3D map of the Milky Way.
#earth #universe #nasa #planets #seeker #science #elements
Looking for Another Earth? Here Are 300 Million, Maybe
"A new analysis of data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft increases the number of habitable exoplanets thought to exist in this galaxy."
The Search for Another Earth Far From the Earth
"When in 1995 astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz described 51 Pegasi b, the first exoplanet orbiting a star similar to the Sun, the extrasolar worlds were still a big unknown."
How to Search for Exoplanets
"Even through a powerful ground- or space-based telescope, stars look like tiny points of light. Planets are even tinier and are very difficult to spot next to their bright host stars. Therefore, scientists rely on indirect methods, like looking at the stars themselves for signs that planets might be orbiting them."
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