No. 4 A planet like Earth?

There was great media excitement in July when it was announced that the Kepler Space Telescope had discovered the most Earth-like planet yet, but appearances can be deceiving.

Called Kepler-452b, the exoplanet is 60 percent larger than Earth, but crucially, orbits in its star’s habitable zone, which is a region around the star where the temperature is just right for liquid water to exist on a planet’s surface – assuming it has an atmosphere. Kepler-452b orbits its star every 385 days, while the star itself is very much like our Sun, but a billion-and-a-half years older. The two exist around 1,400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus.

Credit: NASA Ames/JPL–Caltech/T Pyle.

An artist’s impression of Kepler-452b. 

That is all astronomers are able to say about this mysterious world. Whether it has an atmosphere, or water, is unknown, although because its star is older, the star will be hotter, meaning the planet could be undergoing a runaway greenhouse effect. Its size may also work against it — a report published around the same time by Caltech’s Leslie Rogers suggests that planets one-and-a-half times larger than Earth will not be rocky, but gaseous instead. The Kepler team, however, are confident in their assertion that Kepler-452b is the first rocky world we have found in a habitable zone. For now, our imagination will have to fill in the gaps.

Related Posts

  • … 995, 996, 997, 998…… 995, 996, 997, 998…          We’ve already touched on the subject of exoplanets, but it is such a rich and exciting topic, […]
  • Distant CousinDistant Cousin   We often look at the night sky and wonder if there’s anybody out there, are we alone in the universe, how far is […]
  • The smallest exoplanet ever photographedThe smallest exoplanet ever photographed Among the few extrasolar planets directly observed, researchers immortalized with the help of the Japanese Subaru telescope a planet which […]
  • Ex-lands in the cosmic dustEx-lands in the cosmic dust It was a star similar to the Sun but much more “dusty”, the first scientific objective LBTI interferometer installed at the Large […]
  • Life on Super-Earths?Life on Super-Earths? Once formed may also be preserved for billions of years: the oceans of Super-Earths and exoplanets are a reality. It is provided by the […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *