NASA is set to announce the major discovery of a new planet by the Kepler Space Telescope tomorrow (July 23) at midday EDT (5 p.m. BST), and you can easily watch it live below. Today we know that our Earth is just one of hundreds of billions of planets in our Milky Way galaxy, itself just one of hundreds of billions of galaxies. But while this information might seem ordinary, it is somewhat incredible to think of that the first planet outside the Solar System was not spotted until 1992 – and then only by accident. Since then, thanks to an range of telescopes we have a better understanding than ever of some of the exoplanets discovered elsewhere in the universe – from interesting hot Jupiters that orbit their stars in days to Earth-sized planets in habitable zones of red dwarfs – but we are yet to discover a true Earth 2.0, specifically an Earth-sized world around a Sun-like star.
|Image credit: NASA's Kepler telescope (artist's illustration shown) has made an important exoplanet discovery that will be revealed tomorrow. NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech.|
Officials from NASA said in a statement "Today... astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years – another Earth," The live stream below will disclose the discovery tomorrow at a press conference at midday EDT (5 p.m. BST). Launched in 2009, Kepler's main mission continued for more than three years, during which time it observed more than 145,000 main sequence stars with a photometer. By sensing dips in brightness from circling planets passing in front of the stars – known as the transit technique – the telescope has been able to discover a vast number of worlds.
So, tune in now for news of its newest discovery as we carry on to reveal our place in this ever more planet-rich universe.
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