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February 27, 2013 –First “Habitable Zone” Planet Discovered: The diagram above compares our own solar system to Kepler-22, a star system containing the first “habitable zone” planet discovered by astronomers. The habitable zone is the “sweet spot” around a star where temperatures are right for water to exist in its liquid form. Liquid water is essential for life on Earth.
Kepler-22’s star is a bit smaller than our sun, so its habitable zone is slightly closer in. The diagram shows an artist’s rendering of the planet comfortably orbiting within the habitable zone, similar to where Earth circles the sun. Kepler-22b has a yearly orbit of 289 days. The planet is the smallest known to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a sun-like star. It’s about 2.4 times the size of Earth.
Astronomers have discovered more than 1,000 new planet…
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