About 3,000 light years away from Earth, scientists think that they have stumbled upon an Earth-size exoplanet which orbits a star similar to the sun. This star is called Kepler-160 and it was noticed during NASA’s mission of hunting exoplanets, Kepler. The Kepler mission lasted between 2009 and 2013. In size and in temperature, this new star is similar to the sun.
Observations made in the past, over the last six years, have showed us that Kepler-160 is being orbited by two exoplanets, Kepler-160c and Kepler-160b. These two exoplanets are, however, a lot bigger than Earth and they orbit much closer to the star. This makes their surfaces extremely hot and entirely inhospitable to life.
Small variations in the time it takes Kepler-160c to go around the star seem to indicate that there could be a third planet located in the Kepler solar system. Astronomers have, however, discovered two more planets, instead of one.
Rene Heller, the author of the study and scientist affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, has recently declared that our analysis indicates that kepler-160 is orbited by four planets, not two, as initially thought. The study explains all of the discoveries made by the team this week in the academic journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
The third planet from the star is Kepler-160d, which is the cause for the orbit distortion of Kepler-160c. The other possible planet that was discovered is a lot more exciting. This exciting planet has been called KOI-456.04. It is twice as small as Earth and it receives a comparable amount of light from its star, which is extremely similar to our sun. This planet also orbits at a distance placing it within the habitable zone of the sta. The surface temperature of this newfound planet could in fact support liquid water, which means that there is a potential for life.