2012 was arguably the best year yet for discoveries that may provide hope that we’re not alone. Far away planets that are within their own solar system, have water and can conceivably support life are called “Exoplanets”.
Last year astronomers found a cache of them, renewing hopes that we may indeed have distant cousins out there. Let’s face it, if we’re alone it’s creepy and if there is an actual “Star Wars bar” somewhere it’s creepy too.
Here are a few big earth-like discoveries in 2012.
1. Tau Ceti e and f. Yes it has a funny name. There are 5 planets in this solar system and astronomers say that 2 of them look like where we live. All 5 revolve closer to their sun than Mars does to ours. But the 2 farthest from their sun are in the most definable “habitable” zone that we’ve ever discovered. But say Tau Ceti e and f, 5 times fast I dare ya!
2. Gliese 667Cc. This place is cool! It’s only 22 million light years from earth and within 10% of the light we receive from the sun. That means it’s well within a habitable zone and is likely to have liquid water. You would get old fast there since it orbits its star once every 28 days. That’s 12 years per year! Gliese 667Cc is considered a “super earth” since it’s so big and so like us.
3. Kepler-34b and Kepler-35b What makes these two planets really cool is that they have double suns just like in Star Wars. Their orbit takes them almost exactly the distance from their sun as earth does from ours. They orbit every 289 days too which is pretty darn close to our number.
It’s going to be very exciting to find out what we learn this year about places like ours. You have to admit, it would be super cool to meet someone from one of these places. No expectations, friends first!