NASA has just discovered 100 new exoplanets — and they say some could support life.
NASA recently announced that an international team of astronomers discovered 104 exoplanets using the Kepler Space Telescope on its K2 mission, which NASA says is meant to “survey a portion of our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover dozens of Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets.”
Two of these recently-discovered exoplanets, K2-72c and K2-72e, reside in the K2-72 star’s favorable “habitable zone,” meaning that liquid water could pool on their surfaces and thus support life.
These planets are located in a solar system approximately 181 light-years away, and have diameters approximately 20 to 50 percent larger than Earth’s.
While the planets hover quite close to K2-72, the star is relatively small and dim, meaning that temperatures are cooler and thus are likelier to support the existence of liquid water.
The telescope’s findings have K2 mission leaders excited about what else the Milky Way might have in store for them.
“Kepler showed strong signs that there are plenty of planets, especially smallish planets around these smaller, cooler, so-called red dwarf stars,” lead author Ian Crossfield said. “That’s very exciting because these cool red dwarf stars dramatically outnumber stars like the sun.”