UBC Physics and Astronomy Ph.D. candidate Michelle Kunimoto has discovered 17 new planets, including a potentially habitable, Earth-sized world, by combing through data gathered by NASA’s Kepler mission.
Over its original four-year mission, the Kepler satellite looked for planets, especially those that lie in the “Habitable Zones” of their stars, where liquid water could exist on a rocky planet’s surface.
The new findings, published in the Astronomical Journal, include one such, particularly rare planet. Officially named KIC-7340288 b, the planet discovered by Ms. Kunimoto is just 1-½ times the size of Earth – small enough to be considered rocky, instead of gaseous like the giant planets of the Solar System – and in the habitable zone of its star.
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