JOE TUCCIARONE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOE TUCCIARONE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of a super-Earth exoplanet transiting its star. A super-Earth is an extrasolar planet with a mass higher than the Earth's, but substantially below the mass of the Solar System's gas giants. One method for finding alien planets is to detect the small drop in starlight caused by a planet passing in front of (transiting) its parent star as seen from Earth. This is the method that the Kepler spacecraft uses to detect planets. On 23rd July 2015, the Kepler team announced the discovery of Kepler 452-b, a super-Earth planet orbiting within the habitable zone of its parent, the Sun-like star Kepler 452.
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