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Astrochemistry

Introduction

Do other Earthlike planets exist?

At least one other Earthlike planet has been discovered, and it is possible that many more may exist. In 2011, NASA’s Kepler space telescope discovered a planet (named Kepler-22b for now) orbiting a star about 600 light years from Earth (recall that a light year is the distance light travels in one year, so that’s extremely far away). This planet is estimated to be about 2.4 times the size of Earth and exists in an area known as a “habitable zone,” which means that it is in an area that could potentially serve as a host to life as we know it. Little is known at this time about the atmosphere or composition of this planet, but it is nonetheless interesting that it exists. How many more Earthlike planets might be out there? It’s hard to say, but considering the tremendous number of stars out there (see below), it’s possible that there are a lot!



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