Post image for Kepler telescope discovers five more Earth-like planets

Kepler telescope discovers five more Earth-like planets

by Jorge Hernandez on February 3, 2011

NASA scientists have identified at least five Earth-like planets in our galaxy, along with what could be dozens of others that may have the ability to sustain life.

The Kepler space telescope located five such celestial bodies orbiting a star in the Milky Way's habitable zone, the location of which creates ideal conditions for liquid water and is crucial for the formation of life.

The planets are orbiting a star that's smaller and cooler than our sun, CNN.com reports, and these latest findings are a substantial step forward in the search for extraterrestrial life. Although more analysis is necessary to confirm if they are, in fact, planets, their presence is an encouraging discovery.

"In a generation, we have gone from extraterrestrial planets being a mainstay of science fiction to the present, where Kepler has helped turn science fiction into today's reality," NASA administrator Charles Bolden told the news source.

The planets were discovered in a very limited portion of the sky between the constellations Cygnus and Lyra. The objects were not visible, but were instead detected by the faint dimming they caused when they moved in front of the star.

In addition to the five most recent finds, Kepler has also found several other similar planets approximately 2,000 lightyears away. The planets are all larger than Earth and are orbiting a sun-like star.

In total, the telescope has identified about 1,200 objects that may be capable of harboring life forms. Of these, 68 are Earth-sized while 662 are similar to Neptune. All of these bodies are in the Milky Way, which suggests the likelihood of innumerable other planets in different galaxies. 

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