The Kepler space telescope has spotted over 1,000 exoplanets beyond our solar system, and its latest finds are three almost Earth-sized planets, including one in the habitable zone circling the star EPIC 201367075, just 150 light years from Earth.
In the cosmic sense, that’s right around the block, making it one of the 10 closest known stars with observed planets in its gravitational hold. Of course, such distances in the cosmic sense also would take many generations to traverse, so don’t invest in real estate there just yet. Still, the relative closeness of this “EPIC” star and its planets provides an advantage for astronomers in studying their atmospheres and potential habitability.
“Most planets we have found to date are scorched. This system is the closest star with lukewarm transiting planets,” said UC Berkeley graduate student Erik Petigura, who discovered the planets while analyzing Kepler data, in a release. “There is a very real possibility that the outermost planet is rocky like Earth, which means this planet could have the right temperature to support liquid water oceans.”
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