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Astronomers: What's better than one new planet? Two new planets.

A WHOLE NEW WORLD...OR TWO

By Angela Garrity, Guest Blogger

Scientists are likely seeing stars as they are celebrating the recent discovery of not one, but possibly two planets.

According to EarthSky, the first planet could be a new potentially habitable Earth-sized world called Kepler-1649c and almost went undiscovered.

“Astronomers found it in old data from the Kepler space telescope mission. It had been missed when the data was analyzed the first time around by a computer algorithm called Robovetter, but spotted later on when double-checked by scientists in the Kepler False Positive Working Group (FPWG). As it turned out, this false positive really was a planet after all.”

Kepler-1649c is 300 light-years from Earth and roughly the same size, coming in at a mere 1.06 times larger.

Don’t plan on relocation just yet, as Kepler-1649c orbits a red dwarf star. Red dwarfs are well known for emitting large, dangerous flares that might make it difficult for life to exist on any planet so there’s still much more research to be done on this exciting find.

The second finding is that of a possible planet orbiting Proxima Centauri that could contain a huge ring system.

“The possibility of a second planet at Proxima Centauri – called Proxima Centauri c – had been announced previously last January, but now another research team thinks they may have successfully imaged it! It hasn’t been confirmed yet, and more work needs to be done, but it is certainly intriguing. The possible planet appears as a bright dot near the star, in a combination of five images taken over two months, beginning in April 2018. What’s puzzling is that the possible planet appears significantly brighter than it should. If the brightness was entirely from the light reflected off the planet itself, then the planet would be about five times larger than Jupiter. But its estimated mass is more similar to Neptune’s. So it’s possible, the researchers say, that the planet is actually smaller, but has a huge ring system around it. And if it’s a real planet, then it would be the closest one imaged so far. Previous studies suggest that Proxima Centauri c is a super-Earth; larger and more massive than Earth, but smaller and less massive than Neptune.”

What an exciting time for science!

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