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Utah Skies: Kepler 1649 c

By NASA/Ames Research Center/Daniel Rutter

Just a little over 300 light years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus, astronomers have discovered a rocky exoplanet that is very similar in size to the Earth, orbiting a star in what is called the habitable zone. This means that the planet is in a place where it is not too cold or too hot, and where the conditions are favorable for the existence of life. To be clear however, life has not yet been found on this planet.

The planet Kepler 1649 c orbits its star in about 20 days. The star is larger than our sun with more mass but is much cooler. Because the star is cooler the planet can orbit closer to its star than the earth is to our Sun and yet still receive about the same amount of sunlight as the earth. Water and ice could exist on this planet making it a friendly place for life.

Kepler 1649c was not considered a planet at first when an algorithm in computer software looking at the Kepler satellite data gave it a false negative. The data was reviewed later by scientists who determined that it was indeed a planet after all.

Although this planet is quite similar to earth in size it has yet to be determined if it has ingredients such as water and air that would make it conducive to life.

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