It’s a Star!

A few weeks ago, I adopted a star. I’m quite a proud parent. And you can be too! The star I adopted–for the low cost of ten US dollars–looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 1.41.12 PM

My star–good old KIC 1234567–is part of the Kepler mission. Kepler is a space observatory that launched in 2009. Right now it’s hanging out in space–like spacecraft do–and looking at a portion of the Milky Way, trying to find Earth-like planets. Periodically, it sends back datadumps for scientists to cackle gleefully over. As of the last collection, we’ve found 2,470 planets that could be habitable.

Kepler Field of View

Kepler Field of View

But–and this is an important but–Kepler is only looking at .28% of the sky–a tiny tiny fraction. Which means that there could be as many as 17 billion Earth-like planets hanging out around other stars in the galaxy. Of course, that’s a measure of size, composition, and proximity to a star–not a measure of atmosphere or presence of water, so we could end up with a far shorter list of actually habitable planets in the end.

And, even more importantly to me, I’ll get a message if my star has one or more of those Earth-like planets around it!

So go forth and adopt gassy masses of starstuff!

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Kate Donovan

Kate Donovan

Kate is an outspoken atheist, feminist, demisexual, stigma-busting student in Chicago studying psychology and human development. She juggles occasionally, would knit you something warm if she knew you, and reads anything she can get her hands on. She was raised believing alternative medicine worked, and now spends her time making skeptical faces at it. You can find her on Twitter at @donovanable

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