World – Planet found with Earth-like characteristics

WASHINGTON –– A haul of planets from NASA’s Kepler telescope includes a world sharing many characteristics with Earth.

Kepler-452b orbits at a very similar distance from its star, though its radius is 60 per cent larger.

An artist’s impression of the Kepler-452b planet.
An artist’s impression of the Kepler-452b planet.

Mission scientists said they believed it was the most Earth-like planet yet.

Such worlds are of interest to astronomers because they might be small and cool enough to host liquid water on their surface –– and might therefore be hospitable to life.

NASA’s science chief John Grunsfeld called the new world the “closest so far” to Earth.

And John Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in California, added: “It’s a real privilege to deliver this news to you today. There’s a new kid on the block that’s just moved in next door.”

The new world joins other exoplanets such as Kepler-186f that are similar in many ways to Earth.

Determining which is most Earth-like depends on the properties one considers. Kepler-186f, announced in 2014, is smaller than the new planet, but orbits a red dwarf star that is significantly cooler than our own.

Kepler-452b, however, orbits a parent star which belongs to the same class as the Sun: it is just four per cent more massive and ten per cent brighter. Kepler-452b takes 385 days to complete a full circuit of this star, so its orbital period is five per cent longer than Earth’s.

The mass of Kepler-452b cannot be measured yet, so astronomers have to rely on models to estimate a range of possible masses, with the most likely being five times that of Earth. If it is rocky, the world would likely still have active volcanism and its gravity would be roughly twice that on our own planet.

The new world is included in a haul of 500 new possible planets sighted by the Kepler space telescope around distant stars.

Twelve of the new candidates are less than twice Earth’s diameter, orbiting in the so-called habitable zone around their star.

This zone refers to a range of distances at which the energy radiated by the star would permit water to exist as a liquid on the planet’s surface if certain other conditions are also met.

Of these 500 candidates, Kepler-452b is the first to be confirmed as a planet.

Dr Suzanne Aigrain, from the University of Oxford, who was not involved with the study, told BBC News: “I do believe the properties described for Kepler-452b are the most Earth-like I’ve come across for a confirmed planet to date.

“What seems even more significant to me is the number of planets in the habitable zone of their host stars with radii below two Earth radii; 12 is quite a few compared to the pre-existing Kepler planet catalogue.

“It bodes well for their attempts to provide a more robust measure of the incidence of Earth-like planets, which is the top-level goal
of the Kepler mission.”

While similar in size and brightness to the Sun, Kepler-452b’s host star is 1.5 billion years older than ours. Scientists working on the mission therefore believe it could point to a possible future for the Earth.

“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.”

Source: (BBC)

3 Responses to World – Planet found with Earth-like characteristics

  1. Candy Cambridge
    Candy Cambridge July 24, 2015 at 12:24 am

    Desmond W Goodridge

  2. dave July 26, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Danielle ! it is so because of our European dominated society that has indoctrinated us into thinking that there is only one this and one that : there is only one culture-European Culture. There is only one Race- the white Race. All others are sub-human, chattel , not worthy of life having no culture. One King or Queen of all –so you seek Empires to bring all people under -one- control them -brainwash them. This might sound a bit strange but study it . The focus on one degenerates ultimately then into -the one –you -only your view is important -selfishness- greed – your view must prevail –eliminate those who oppose -result is -HATE – not LOVE – degeneration -destruction. Now you know the keys to where we as a world find ourselves. Time to get back to purity – a purging becomes necessary. Nature takes its course.


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