Astronomy is an art. Though most of it is based on facts and science, there’s a lot of imagination of what could be. Every year, we common folks down here, hear something about another “habitable” planet being found, and all we can think of is: “At last! Aliens!” Well, who knows, with the discovery of Earth 2.0 as they have been calling it, that could actually be possible. Read on to know some interesting stuff about earth’s big bro:
The aim of the Kepler mission is to find habitable Earth-sized and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone.
1. It is named Kepler-452b
This artist’s concept depicts one possible appearance of the planet Kepler-452b.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle[Fact Source]
2. It is considered as an “older, bigger cousin to Earth”
This artists’ concept compares Earth to the new planet Kepler-452b.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle
Scientists believe it is the most Earth-like planet yet.[Fact Source]
3. It is around 1,400 light years away from Earth, in the constellation Cygnus[Fact Source]
4. It is 6 billion years old – 1.5 billion years older than our sun
An image of the sun.[Fact Source]
5. It is the smallest planet known to orbit in the habitable zone
The habitable zone is the region around a star in which the energy radiated by the star allows water to exist in liquid form on the planet’s surface, if certain other conditions are also met.
(Fun Fact: Did you know that the sun is a star? Come on now, scratch your head, you learnt it in science class!)[Fact Source]
6. …which means that alien life might exist on this planet!
Says Jon Jenkins of Nasa’s Ames Research Centre, “It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6bn years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s a substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”
(Stop imagining green slimy men, please! It’s time we have different aliens.)[Fact Source]
7. It is 60% larger in diameter than Earth[Fact Source]
8. It takes 385 days for the planet to orbit its star… very similar to Earth’s 365-day year[Fact Source]
9. This planet was discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope
This is an artist’s impression of The Kepler Space Telescope, which has discovered 1,028 confirmed exoplanets since launching in 2009.[Fact Source]
10. NASA says that it “almost certainly has an atmosphere”[Fact Source]
11. Gravity on this plane is about twice as that of earth’s[Fact Source]
12. This planet can predict our earth’s future
“If Kepler-452b is indeed a rocky planet, its location vis-a-vis its star could mean that it is just entering a runaway greenhouse phase of its climate history,” explained Dr Doug Caldwell, a Seti Institute scientist working on the Kepler mission.
“The increasing energy from its aging sun might be heating the surface and evaporating any oceans. The water vapour would be lost from the planet forever.”
“Kepler-452b could be experiencing now what the Earth will undergo more than a billion years from now, as the Sun ages and grows brighter.”[Fact Source]
NASA is planning on launching the successor to the Kepler mission in 2017, that will search the nearest solar systems for exoplanets.
Well, hello there, cousin!