Exoplanet KOI-3010.01, the Kepler mission discovered a planet orbiting the star KOI-3010 using the transit method. Researchers are drawn to this world because it has traits that are similar to those found on Earth.
The red dwarf KOI-3010 is located in the constellation Lyra and is 1213 light-years away from us. This is an ancient star, with a possible age of 13.9 billion years. The planet KOI-3010.01 (or KOI-3010 b) is classified as a warm super earth (it is more than Earth on a mass, but it is much inferior to gas giants). One orbit around the star lasts around 60 Earth days.
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Diagram showing Kepler’s discoveries with radii less than twice that of the Earth as a function of mean stellar flux and the temperature of the star they orbit. The green band shows the approximate limits of the habitable zone while the size of the planets is proportional to their measured radii. Click on image to enlarge. (NASA Ames/N. Batalha and W. Stenzel)
The genesis and development of life on the planet are influenced by environmental factors. Its average temperature is 19.6 degrees Celsius. The radius is 1.35 times that of the Earth. They know very little about the atmosphere’s makeup, yet it exists (there is an assumption that it is almost identical to the earth). The mass index has yet to be determined. The researchers believe that the exoplanet KOI-3010.01 will have not just a temperate climate like Earth, but also a liquid ocean spanning approximately 65% of its surface.
What Is an Exoplanet?
All of the planets in our solar system orbit around the Sun. Planets that orbit around other stars are called exoplanets. Exoplanets are very hard to see directly with telescopes. They are hidden by the bright glare of the stars they orbit.
So, astronomers use other ways to detect and study these distant planets. They search for exoplanets by looking at the effects these planets have on the stars they orbit.
How do we look for exoplanets?
One way to search for exoplanets is to look for “wobbly” stars. A star that has planets doesn’t orbit perfectly around its center. From far away, this off-center orbit makes the star look like it’s wobbling.
An orbiting planet (small blue ball) causes a star (large yellow ball) to orbit slightly off-center. From a distance, this makes it look like the star is wobbling.
Hundreds of planets have been discovered using this method. However, only big planets—like Jupiter, or even larger—can be seen this way. Smaller Earth-like planets are much harder to find because they create only small wobbles that are hard to detect.
How can we find Earth-like planets in other solar systems?
In 2009, NASA launched a spacecraft called Kepler to look for exoplanets. Kepler looked for planets in a wide range of sizes and orbits. And these planets orbited around stars that varied in size and temperature.
Some of the planets discovered by Kepler are rocky planets that are at a very special distance from their star. This sweet spot is called the habitable zone, where life might be possible.
Kepler detected exoplanets using something called the transit method. When a planet passes in front of its star, it’s called a transit. As the planet transits in front of the star, it blocks out a little bit of the star’s light. That means a star will look a little less bright when the planet passes in front of it.
Astronomers can observe how the brightness of the star changes during a transit. This can help them figure out the size of the planet.
By studying the time between transits, astronomers can also find out how far away the planet is from its star. This tells us something about the planet’s temperature. If a planet is just the right temperature, it could contain liquid water—an important ingredient for life.
So far, thousands of planets have been discovered by the Kepler mission. And more will be found by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, which is observing the entire sky to locate planets orbiting the nearest and brightest stars.
We now know that exoplanets are very common in the universe. And future NASA missions have been planned to discover many more!