Astronomers led by Sarah Ballard from the University of Washington announced the discovery of Kepler-61b, a superterran exoplanet orbiting near the inner edge of the habitable zone of a small K star. Kepler-61b has a size of 2.15 Earth radii and an orbital period of 60 days. It was previously listed as KOI-1361.01 in the NASA Kepler candidates. Kepler-61b receives about 32% more light from its star than Earth from the Sun. Its surface temperature might be close to 40°C assuming an Earth-like atmosphere. Kepler-61b was added to the Habitable Exoplanet Catalog (HEC) and is now ranked number six based on its Earth Similarity Index. HEC lists now ten objects of interest for the search for life outside our Solar System.
Figure 1: Current list of potentially habitable exoplanets including Kepler-61b. Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune were added for scale.
Figure 2: Current list of potentially habitable exoplanets including Kepler-61b. Earth and Mars were added for scale.
Figure 3: Orbit of Kepler-61b around its parent K-star Kepler-61. The shaded region corresponds to the size of the narrow habitable zone (darker green) and wider habitable zone (lighter green).
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