Infographic - 10 Confirmed Exoplanets That Could Be The Next Earth

Monday, 31 March 2014 - 10:57AM
Monday, 31 March 2014 - 10:57AM
Infographic - 10 Confirmed Exoplanets That Could Be The Next Earth
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Click here for the full-sized infographic

 

In this age of space exploration, an age in which new and mind-blowing discoveries are made almost every day, it is easy to forget that just a few decades ago humans didn't even know for sure whether or not planets existed outside of our solar system. Now, thanks to technological marvels such as NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile, over 1,000 planets have had their existence confirmed. The number of new planet discoveries is becoming so impressive that it would appear that we as a species are getting delightfully greedy. We're not content with just knowing these planets exist, we now want to know which ones are like Earth and which ones have the potential to host life.

 

The Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico, Arecibo is starting to take on this challenge by filing these planetary discoveries in their Habitable Exoplanets Catalog (HEC). The HEC plays host to a massive array of data and estimates for every single confirmed exoplanet and exoplanet candidate. One of the key data points researchers are using in the study of exoplanets is the Earth Similarity Index (ESI). The ESI is used to rank exoplanet discoveries based on their similarity to Earth in four key areas. Radius, Density, Escape Velocity and Temperature. Using these estimates, researchers are able to get an idea of which planets stand the best chance of hosting life as we know it.

 

Using data from the HEC, Outer Places has created a one stop shop of an infographic that highlights which CONFIRMED exoplanet discoveries currently top the ESI league table. Based on this data, these 10 planets represent the most Earth-like planets ever to be discovered. The next issue? How do we get there? With their distances from Earth ranging from 26 to 1743 light years away, it's safe to say that we're not going to be visiting them any time soon. But that's just fine by is, because there's still a lot of data to be collected before we can claim to be familiar with these amazing discoveries.

 

Indeed, these discoveries represent a mere scratching of the surface when it comes to mapping our galactic neighborhood. Scientists can now say with confidence that the universe is teeming with alien worlds, many of which may well have the ability to host alien life. NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) continue to scour the skies looking for new discoveries, and with the James Webb Telescope and the European Space Agency (ESA) set to join the hunt, you can expect this planetary league table to be as ever-changing as our knowledge of what lies beyond our Solar System.

 

For more on the hunt for habitable planets, visit the official pages for  NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and The European Souther Observatory.

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