UCF researcher, Kevin Stevenson, was not prepared to discover something of this magnitude.
“The discovery was completely by accident,” Stevenson said in a telephone interview with ABC News, “there were these spurious signals we could not explain.” This led to the discovery of UCF-1.01, a new planet 33 light-years away in the Leo the Lion constellation.
Since 1995, over 700 planets have been discovered, although UCF-1.01 is unique because it is only two-thirds the size of Earth. A discovery this small, and that far away can open up a plethora of new discoveries, being that most planets discovered have been closer to the size of Jupiter.
Stevenson and his partners found the planet using a NASA ultra strong telescope called the Spitzer space telescope. They spent an entire year observing the planet before they could confirm that it was indeed a distant planet.
Stevenson said in an interview with the Daily News, “Initially we thought it was GJ 436b occurring at the wrong time. Once we realized that this wasn’t the case, we started speculating as to what that could be.” He went on and realized, “This has to be a planet there’s just no other explanation for it.
According to their studies, they’ve concluded that UCF-1.01 would not be a habitable zone.
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