|More exoplanets than expected in the first year of the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog. Image released Dec. 6, 2012.
CREDIT: PHL @ UPR Arecibo, ESA/Hubble, NASA
LONG BEACH, Calif. — A possible alien planet discovered by NASA's Kepler space telescope is the most Earth-like world yet detected beyond our solar system, scientists say.
With a radius that is just 1.5 times that of Earth, the potential planet is a so-called "super-Earth," meaning it is just slightly larger than the Earth. The candidate planet orbits a star similar to the sun at a distance that falls within the "habitable zone" — the region where liquid water could exist on the planet's surface. Scientists say the planet, if confirmed, could be a prime candidate to host alien life.
"This was very exciting because it's our fist habitable-zone super Earth around a sun-type star," astronomer Natalie Batalha, a Kepler co-investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., said Tuesday (Jan. 8) here at the 221st meeting of the American Astronomica