|Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)|
Excerpt from forbes.com
Astronomers have announced that they have discovered eight more planets that likely exist in temperature ranges where life could exist.
The astronomers began their research path by examining candidates for planets that had been identified by NASA’s Kepler mission. The candidates were analyzed using a supercomputer running algorithms at NASA’s Ames facility.
After exploring the statistical likelihood of the planets’ existence, the team followed up with months of observations using a variety of different methods. The planets are distant enough, however, that their habitabiliy is still only a likelihood, not a certainty.
“We don’t know for sure whether any of the planets in our sample are truly habitable,” researcher David Kipping said in a statement. “All we can say is that they’re promising candidates.”
The two most potentially Earth-like planets of the group of eight are Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b, both of which circle red dwarf stars are are respectively 70% and 97% likely to be in the habitable temperature zones of their respective stars. However, it should be noted that there are serious issues regarding the potential habitability of planets circling red dwarf stars, so confirmation will require significantly more study.