A team of scientists has recently announced the discovery of an exoplanet that is very similar to Earth. The astronomers named the distant “cousin” of our planet Kepler 452b and have reasons to believe it may be hospitable to life.
Kepler 452b was found at more than 1,400 light years away from Earth, its diameter is 1.63 bigger than our planet’s and orbits around a star that resembles our sun. According to the scientists, the year lasts about 384 days and they believe that because the planet is situated in the habitable zone of that star it may hold liquid water.
The astronomers are very excited about the discovery of this Earth-like planet and are currently trying to figure out more details about it, despite it being so far away from our planet.
Jon Jenkins, a researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, and one of the astronomers who discovered the new planet, explained that Kepler 452b is sort of like Earth’s bigger cousin. Jenkins believes the recently discovered exoplanet could help the scientists better understand how our own planet evolved. The researchers assume that Kepler 452b has been sitting for 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star and will probably remain there for some time, more exactly for three billion years.
The researchers believe that because this exoplanet is older than our own, it could mean that if there is life on it, it had more time to evolve. Jenkins said he finds it amazing that this planet has spent so many billions of years in its star’s habitable zone, much longer than our planet has. He also believes that life could exist on it and that it’s more evolved than ours.
According to the scientists, the exoplanet has not been observed directly because of its distance. They managed to detect it because of its host star’s dimming as it moves in front of it. That’s why the researchers don’t know exact information like the exoplanet’s size or the duration and the size of its orbit.
The scientists are trying to determine whether Kepler 452b is a rocky planet like ours or if it’s gaseous like Neptune; if it has liquid water on its surface or if it has an atmosphere. All these things are needed in order to be hospitable for life. At this point, the scientists can only make assumptions about the exoplanet and hope to find out more in the near future.
Image Source: independent.co.uk