NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Multiple Planets Orbiting Twin Suns

Narrator: NASA’s Kepler Mission has discovered the first system of multiple planets orbiting a pair of stars, or as astronomers call it, a circumbinary system. Located in the constellation of Cygnus, about 4,900 light-years from Earth, the discovery of Kepler-47 proves that more than one planet can form and persist while orbiting two stars. One star is similar to the sun in size but only 84 percent as bright. The second star is only one-third the size of the sun and less than one percent as bright. The inner planet, Kepler-47b, is the smallest known in orbit around two stars. The outer planet, Kepler-47c, is a gaseous giant, more than four times the size of Earth. Astrophysicists believe it might have an atmosphere blanketed with thick bright water clouds. It orbits its host stars every 303 days, placing it in the so-called “habitable zone.” This is the region in a planetary system where liquid water could exist on the surface of an orbiting planet. While not a world thought to be hospitable for life, Kepler-47c is the first known circumbinary planet found in the habitable zone of its stars and it demonstrates the diversity of planetary systems in our galaxy. This discovery represents an important step for the Kepler mission in the effort to find Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of their host stars. (Electronic Sounds of Data)
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