The discovery of new planets likely to be able to support life along Earthly lines has been announced, with one of the most promising candidates for alien or human habitability located just 470 light-years away.
The new exoplanets have been discovered by analysis of data from the Kepler space telescope, and bear the tags Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b. Another six Earthlike worlds have also been identified, but these two are considered to be the most promising – and Kepler-438b the best of the lot. The new research was announced yesterday.
Both worlds orbit red dwarf stars, smaller and less hot than our Sun. Kepler-438b has a 35-Earth-day year: Kepler-442b’s year is 112 days long. With a diameter just 12 percent bigger than Earth, Kepler-438b has a 70-percent chance of being rocky, according to the team’s calculations. Kepler-442b is about one-third larger than Earth, but still has a 60-percent chance of being rocky.