LONDON: After analysing over four years of data from NASA’s
Kepler spacecraft, a team of astronomers has discovered a star
that is 11.2 billion years old and has at least five Earth-size planets.
“The findings show that Earth-size planets have formed throughout most of the universe’s 13.8-billion-year history,
leaving open the possibility for the existence of ancient life in the galaxy,” said Tiago Campante, research fellow
at the University of Birmingham who led the research project.
The paper describes Kepler-444, a star that is 25 percent smaller than our Sun and is 117 light years from Earth.
The star’s five known planets have sizes that fall between Mercury and Venus. Those planets are so close to their
star that they complete their orbits in fewer than 10 days. At that distance, they are all much hotter than Mercury
and are not habitable.
“Kepler-444 is very bright and can be easily seen with binoculars. This is one of the oldest systems in the galaxy,”
added Steve Kawaler, an Iowa State University professor of physics and astronomy who is also the co-author.
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