NASA announced that it has discovered a planet that is similar to Earth in several features and is orbiting a distant sun.
Kepler-452b is larger and older than Earth. It orbits a star 1,400 light years away from Earth. NASA said that the newly discovered planet is 60 percent larger than Earth and is situated in the constellation Cygnus.
As reported by Wired, NASA’s modelling suggests that Kepler-452b is a rocky planet. However, the precise nature of the planet has not been determined yet.
Kepler researcher Jon Jenkins said, “Today, Earth is a little less lonely.”
— NASA (@NASA) July 23, 2015
Kepler-452b’s distance from its star is more than Earth’s from the sun. However, keeping in mind that its star is bigger than the sun, it receives nearly the same amount of energy – which, Jenkins said, could be similar to the Earth’s sunlight – as Earth does from the sun.
Although it has been found that the planet “almost certainly has an atmosphere,” it has not determined what it is comprised of. According to the assumptions made by planetary geologists, Kepler-452b’s atmosphere could be thicker than that of Earth’s.
Jenkins said that the planet has been orbiting its star for 6 billion years. Another similarity between the two planets is the number of days they take to complete one revolution around their respective stars: while Kepler-452b takes 385 days, Earth does so in 365 days.
According to CNN, Jenkins said in a statement, “That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”
Due to the stark similarity between Kepler-452b and Earth, the SETI Institute is devising ways to listen to signals from the star Kepler 452.
John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, said, “On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most closely resemble the Earth and our Sun. This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0.”
According to TIME, while 12 planets bearing similarities to Earth have been discovered in habitable zones, “Kepler-452b fires the planet hunter’s imagination because it is the most similar to the Earth-sun system found yet,” a statement issued by NASA said.
“A planet at the right temperature within the habitable zone, and only about one-and-a-half times the diameter of Earth, circling a star very much like our own sun.”
In addition to Kepler-452b, 11 more planets were discovered by the $600 million Kepler mission that was launched in 2009.
“This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0,” Grunsfeld said.
The Kepler mission was launched to assess a part of the Milky Way for habitable planets.
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