Kepler Just Made One Of Its Most Important Planet Discoveries Yet

Artist's impression of a super-Earth. NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Jonathan O`Callaghan 07 Sep 2017, 19:52

We'll be able to see the star's light coming through their atmospheres, analyze its spectra, and thus work out what's in the atmospheres. This is one of the best ways to search for biosignatures of life on other worlds.

These planets are unlikely to be habitable, being far too close to the star and thus far too hot. But Niraula said it's possible they have still retained their atmospheres despite their proximity, just like Venus has done in our own Solar System.

Scientists have already used telescopes like Hubble to study the atmospheres of more distant worlds. That these planets are so close makes them extremely exciting targets not just for Hubble, but upcoming telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

“It is precisely in these nearest systems where the atmospheric measurements will be the most sensitive to and the question of habitability will be examined in the greatest detail in the decades to come,” the team wrote in their paper.

Our Solar System is a bit of an oddity in that it doesn’t contain any super-Earths, whereas most other systems do. Future studies of GJ 9827, then, seem like a bit of a no-brainer.

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