The search for a new Earth outside the solar system seems to be nearing its end. NASA's Ames Research Center astronomer Thomas Barclay has found a planet nearly the size of Earth in the habitable zone of a star in the Milky Way.
Barclay's announcement at the Search for Life Beyond the Solar System conference hasn't been officially published yet, so the details are scarce. We know that:
1. It's an M1 red dwarf star (maybe we should call it Krypton.)
2. It's a goldilocks planet, orbiting within the zone where liquid water (and life) can exist.
3. It's radius is only 1.1 times the size of Earth. Until now the minimum size for a new Earth candidate was 1.4 times—Kepler-62f, which orbits a star about 1,200 light years away from us.
4. At least five other planets are orbiting this red dwarf.
I can't wait for that new telescope starshade that will let us take actual photos of these new worlds.
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