New York (MorichesDaily) – NASA discovered Kepler-452b orbiting at a very similar distance from its star, though its radius is 60% larger.
Mission scientists said they believed it was the most Earth-like planet ever discovered.
NASA announced on Thursday that the Earth-like planet has been spotted by the Kepler Space Telescope which is on a mission to find planets. Such worlds are of interest to astronomers because they might be small and cool enough to host liquid water on their surface – and might be hospitable to life.
Kepler-452b is larger than Earth and has a 385-day orbit and is around 1,400 light years away from Earth.
The planet is five percent farther from its parent star Kepler-452 than Earth is from the Sun. Kepler-452 is six billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than the sun, has the same temperature, and is 20 percent brighter and has a diameter 10 percent larger, according to NASA.
“It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet,” said Jon Jenkins of NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Kepler has discovered 1,030 confirmed planets since its launch in 2009.
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.”