NASA's Kepler Takeaway: 'We Are Probably Not Alone'
Telescope finds 10 more planets that could have life
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 20, 2017 7:00 AM CDT
This artist rendering provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle, taken in 2015, depicts one possible appearance of the planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-size world to be found in the habitable zone...   (T. Pyle)

(Newser) – NASA's planet-hunting telescope has found 10 new planets outside our solar system that are likely the right size and temperature to potentially support life, broadly hinting that we are probably not alone, per the AP. After four years of searching, the Kepler telescope has detected a total of 49 planets in the Goldilocks zone. And it only looked in a tiny part of the galaxy, one quarter of 1% of a galaxy that holds about 200 billion stars. Seven of the 10 newfound Earth-size planets circle stars that are just like ours, not cool dwarf ones that require a planet be quite close to its star for the right temperature. That doesn't mean the planets have life, but some of the most basic requirements that life needs are there, upping the chances for life.

"Are we alone? Maybe Kepler today has told us indirectly, although we need confirmation, that we are probably not alone," Kepler scientist Mario Perez said in a Monday news conference. Outside scientists agreed that this is a boost in the hope for life elsewhere. "It implies that Earth-size planets in the habitable zone around sun-like stars are not rare," Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, who was not part of the work, said in an email. The 10 Goldilocks planets are part of 219 new candidate planets that NASA announced Monday as part of the final batch of planets discovered in the main mission since the telescope was launched in 2009. It was designed to survey part of the galaxy to see how frequent planets are and how frequent Earth-size and potentially habitable planets are.

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