Three new planets have been discovered, and they're tinier than than a Smart Car.
Well, not that small, but Caltech states the trio comprises the “smallest confirmed planets ever detected outside our solar system.”
The three, discovered by Caltech researchers working on NASA's Kepler Mission, appear to be orbiting a “red dwarf.” No not Seth Green.
According to a Caltech statement:
Their existence suggests that the galaxy could be teeming with similarly rocky planets–and that there's a good chance that many are in the habitable zone.
The Kepler folks are on a roll. The space-based “photoscope” of the same name helped scientists discover another planet last month. That one was said to be in a “habitable zone” of space. Meaning maybe you could live there some day. Or possibly your children. Richard Branson for sure.
Anyway, Philip Muirhead, a postdoctoral researcher at Caltech, was psyched: “There's no question that it's exciting,” he said.
The three new planets were named KOI-961.01, KOI-961.02, and KOI-061.03. (We believe the K is for Kepler).
John Johnson, assistant professor of astronomy at the school, said the discovery increases the likelihood that there really is alien life in outer space:
That boosts the chances of other life being in the universe–that's the ultimate result here. If these planets are as common as they appear–and because red dwarfs themselves are so common–then the whole galaxy must be just swarming with little habitable planets around faint red dwarfs.