Astronomers using data from the NASA Kepler spacecraft’s reborn K2 mission may have made its first discovery of a star with three exoplanets—planets that orbit stars other than our sun. A paper reporting this discovery has been submitted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.
Ranging in size from fifty percent larger to a little more than twice the size of Earth, the possible planets orbit a star about half the size and mass of our sun. The outermost planet orbits on the warm edge of the habitable zone, the distance from a star where liquid water might exist on the surface of an orbiting planet.
“We are delighted to see the enthusiastic response for K2. The mission has extended the telescope’s search capability to a new part of the sky, marking the first K2 exoplanet discovery less than a month ago, and now the possible discovery of the first K2 multiple-planet system,” said Charles Sobeck, Kepler project manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA. “We look forward to the outcome of the peer-review process of this latest result.”
The star, called EPIC 2011367065, home to these possible planets is about 150 light-years away in the constellation Leo.