Citizen scientists have used data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft to detect a planet roughly twice the size of Earth located within its star’s habitable zone, or the range of orbital distances where liquid water may exist on the planet’s surface. Called “K2-288Bb” and located 226 light-years away, the star could either be a rocky world like Earth or a gas-rich planet like Neptune. “It’s a very exciting discovery due to how it was found [and] its temperate orbit and because planets of this size seem to be relatively uncommon,” said Adina Feinstein, a University of Chicago graduate student and lead author of the study. Read more for another video and additional information.
The planet lies in a stellar system K2-288, which contains a pair of dim, cool M-type stars separated by approximately 5.1-billion miles — roughly six times the distance between Saturn and the Sun. The brighter star is about half as massive as the Sun, while its companion is about one-third the Sun’s mass and size. It’s discovered that the new planet K2-288Bb, orbits the smaller, dimmer star every 31.3 days.
“Furthermore, the data suggest that K2-288Bb resides within its host star’s habitable zone, which means the planet may have liquid water on its surface, according to the statement. The exoplanet was discovered using data from the fourth observing campaign of Kepler’s K2 mission, which ran from 2014 to 2018,” reports Space.com.