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Kepler Reaching into the Stars
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Written by Michele Johnson, Public Affairs Officer, Kepler Mission
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 19:28

We are entering a golden era for "stellar physics" – a term coined to describe research about the formation, evolution, interior and the atmospheres of stars. Thanks to a partnership forged among stellar astrophysics, scientists and NASA’s Kepler Mission, a goldmine of data is now available to support the world's efforts to detect planets in the habitable zone around other stars.

An artist's rendering that compares the approximate size and color of the stars in the triple-eclipsing system HD 181068.  Image credit: NASA/KASC


The Kepler photometric data is a measurement of light’s “brightness,” and provides an unprecedented opportunity for the emerging field of asteroseismology, the study of the internal structure of stars by observing minuscule pulsations in the star brightness. Asteroseismic research is giving insights into the fundamental properties of stars, including their mass, size, age and internal structure. Kepler enables studies of a large number of stars representing a broad range of types. This asteroseismic research will substantially improve our understanding of stellar evolution. It also will help determine the properties of stars that have planetary systems studied in the Kepler exoplanet program.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 April 2011 19:34
NASA Finds Earth-size Planet Candidates in the Habitable Zone
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Written by Michael Mewhinney / Rachel Hoover (NASA's Ames Research Center), Trent J. Perrotto (NASA's Headquarters)
Thursday, 03 February 2011 11:33

Is our Milky Way galaxy home to other planets the size of Earth? Are Earth-sized planets common or rare? NASA scientists seeking answers to those questions recently revealed their discovery.

Kepler's planet candidates by size. Image credit: NASA/Wendy Stenzel


"We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone - a region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Some candidates could even have moons with liquid water," said William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and the Kepler Mission’s science principal investigator. "Five of the planetary candidates are both near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their parent stars."

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 February 2011 11:43
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