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‘Most Earth-Like’ Exoplanet Gets Major Demotion

March 8th, 2011 03:23 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

Space

audiovideodisco writes “Last month, the team behind NASA’s Kepler planet-finding mission announced the discovery of the most Earth-like planetary candidate ever spotted: KOI 326.01, an approximately Earth-sized planet orbiting in the habitable zone of its star. There was much excitement; one astrophysicist even calculated the value of the new planet as exactly $223,099.93. But when an innocent fact-checker’s question sent one of the researchers back to look at some figures, she noticed that the star’s brightness was listed incorrectly in a reference catalog, throwing the planet’s properties into doubt. After jiggering the calculations, the Kepler team now says that KOI 326.01 is neither Earth-sized nor in the habitable zone, and may actually be orbiting a different star. The Kepler researcher says, ‘We’re seeing the scientific method playing out in real time.’ While this news is a bit of a downer, Kepler is just getting going, and it’s expected to find many, many more Earth-like planets.”

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