Planets are of different sizes and compositions, and space exploration has constantly been proving it to us. There are planets much smaller than Earth, while other such cosmic objects are hundreds of times bigger, such as Jupiter. However, if a planet has pretty much the same size as Earth, the two cosmic objects could be totally different otherwise – a perfect example is a comparison between Venus and our planet. It’s a big conundrum in astronomy why Venus turned out to become the living Hell that we all know, while its “sister planet” harbours much more peaceful conditions and even an extraordinary diversity of life forms.
Phys.org now reveals that scientists found new evidence showing that there could be a lot more Earth-sized planets in the Universe than previously thought. This means more chances for life to develop elsewhere besides our planet, but again, the same size doesn’t automatically mean the same composition, atmospheric structure, and so on.
Earth-sized planets located in binary star systems
After explorations made using the international Gemini Observatory, as well as the WIYN Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, scientists found new data suggesting that planets about the same size as Earth could be hiding in binary star systems. Considering that about half of all the known stars are located in binary systems, it can only mean that there are more Earth-sized worlds out there than astronomers knew before.
Scientists from NASA Ames Research Center had been using the twin telescopes from the international Gemini Observatory to determine that many stars that host planets are actually binary stars, meaning pairs of stars.
Katie Lester from NASA’s Ames Research Center, declared as cited by Phys.org:
We have shown that it is more difficult to find Earth-sized planets in binary systems because small planets get lost in the glare of their two parent stars.
Binary star systems are consisting of two stars that are orbiting around their common barycenter. Systems containing two or more stars are known as multiple star systems. These systems often appear to the unaided eye as single points of light.