TWO EARTH-SIZED ‘roasted’ planets could signal what is in store for the Earth when the sun expands and becomes a ‘red giant’ towards the end of its life, according to a new report published in the journal Nature.
The two planets, named Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, are orbiting a distant star that is in its red giant stage and are the smallest planets found so far outside the solar system.
The two planets are thought to be rocky and temperatures on Kepler-20e are believed to be hot enough to melt glass. Temperatures on Kepler-20f are also believed to be far too hot to support life.
Three other planets discovered in the Kepler-20 system are larger than Earth, but smaller than Neptune. These three are believed to be gas planets. The planets were named in order of discovery, with Kepler-20b (one of the larger gas planets) nearest their sun and Kepler-20d farthest away from it.
Here’s an animated tour of the Kepler-20 star system:
(Video via unknownskywalker)
Francois Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts and lead author of the new study published in Nature said that the Kepler mission’s main goal is to “find Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone”.
“This discovery demonstrates for the first time that Earth-size planets exist around other stars, and that we are able to detect them,” he said.
Read more: ‘New Earth’ found in distant solar system >