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Aug 11, 2015 01:29 PM EDT

Planet Discovered Orbiting Within Habitable Zone Of 2-Star System

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NASA Scientists have discovered a new exoplanet orbiting within the habitable zone of a two-star system, San Francisco State University reports

Any inhabitants of the system would see two suns in their sky. The larger star is about 94 percent the size of our sun and the smaller star only 20 percent the size of our sun.

This is the tenth 'circumbinary' planet discovered by NASA's Kepler Mission, San Francisco State University. It leads to the suggestion that more habitable planets could be waiting to be discovered in the same systems.

The discovery is detailed in an article accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal and will be announced at the International Astronomical Union meeting in Honolulu.

"If we had observed this planet earlier or later than we did, we would have seen nothing and assumed there was no planet there,"Stephen Kane, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at San Francisco State University, said in the release. "That suggests that there are a lot more of these kinds of planets than we are thinking, and we're just looking at the wrong time."

Kane is the head of NASA's Kepler Habitable Zone Working Group and in 2014 was part of an international team that detected Kepler-186f.

The planet, named Kepler-453b, is under the influence of the gravitational pull of two stars. The planet's radius is 6.2 times that of Earth and its size indicates that it is a gaseous, rather than a rocky planet.

"Being involved in these discoveries never gets old," Kane said. "We live in an amazing time in which we have the technology to measure objects hundreds of light-years away and answer some of the questions about the universe that humans have asked for ages. It's incredible to be a part of that." 

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Tags nasa, Kepler
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