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Three Earthlike planets identified by Cornell astronomers

The Kepler mission continuously monitors 150,000 stars for transit signals - a dip in the star's brightness due to the passing of a planet. The Cornell team narrowed the list to 80 stars with these signals, focusing on stars called M dwarfs. These are smaller, dimmer stars than our sun, but the majority of the stars in the universe are M dwarfs, the researchers said.

It's not little green men, but it could be a step in that direction: Cornell astronomers, using data from the NASA Kepler Mission, have identified three Earthlike planets orbiting their own suns, all of which could be hospitable to life.

The team of astronomers used the Cornell-built Near-Infrared Triple Spectrograph (TripleSpec) at California's Mount Palomar Observatory to measure the temperatures and metallicities of small stars called M dwarfs, first recorded by the NASA Kepler mission, which then led to observations of planets orbiting these stars.

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