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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NASA Discovers First Earth-size Planets Beyond Our Solar System

An artist's concept of Kepler-20e
This artist's conception illustrates Kepler-20e.
Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech
The discovery marks the next important milestone in the ultimate search for planets like Earth. The new planets are thought to be rocky. Kepler-20e is slightly smaller than Venus, measuring 0.87 times the radius of Earth. Kepler-20f is a bit larger than Earth, measuring 1.03 times its radius. Both planets reside in a five-planet system called Kepler-20, approximately 1,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra.

An artist's concept of Kepler-20f
This artist's conception illustrates Kepler-20f.
Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Kepler-20e orbits its parent star every 6.1 days and Kepler-20f every 19.6 days. These short orbital periods mean very hot, inhospitable worlds. Kepler-20f, at 800 degrees Fahrenheit, is similar to an average day on the planet Mercury. The surface temperature of Kepler-20e, at more than 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit, would melt glass.

from NASA

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