For the first time in history astronomers have found planets that appear to be about the size of Earth in a different solar system. The two planets closely orbit a star similar to our sun 950 light-years away from our planet leading the astronomers to believe that their surfaces are too hot to support life. Even so, the scientists are hopeful as this is the closest we've gotten to finding a true kin to Earth.
Speaking to Space.com, François Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. said, "We've crossed a threshold: For the first time, we've been able to detect planets smaller than the Earth around another star. We proved that Earth-size planets exist around other stars like the sun, and most importantly, we proved that humanity is able to detect them. It's the beginning of an era."
The planets were discovered with the help of NASA's Kepler space telescope, hence the name given to them: Keplar 20e and Kelper 20f, which are 0.87 times and 1.03 times the width of Earth respectively. Both planets circle their star less from than 20 million miles away. Earth, on the other hand, circles the sun at 93 million miles away. Due to their close proximity to their star, scientist believe their surfaces are 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit. So the chances are life as we know it inhabiting the planet are very slim.