NASA announced it: the twin of Earth was found. Kepler-452b is the twin’s name and is found in the Cygnus constellation, approximately 1,400 light years away from our home planet.
Earth 2.0 as it has also been dubbed is, according to the release a possibly future hospitable home for the earthly population, yet a lot of questions remain to be answered.
Much like earth, Kepler-452b completes an orbit around its Sun-like star in 385 days, and measures about 60 percent more than Earth. This super-sized Earth 2.0, aged 1.5 billion years more than our home planet left scientists in the dark so far regarding its mass and geological composition, even as hypotheses are tested as to its surface being mostly rocky.
And, as its smaller, younger brother, it could also sport some water. Kepler-452b is found in a Goldilocks zone – the sufficient distance from a star that allows the existence of water on a planet.
Unveiled by the Kepler Space Telescope, more details about Earth 2.0 were gathered using the McDonald Observatory’s Harlan J. Smith telescope and the telescopes of the Keck and Whipple Observatories.
According to measurements from these three facilities, Kepler-452b is 1.4 to 1.8 times bigger than Earth. According to one statement:
“At around 1.5 times the Earth’s radius there seems to be a transition going on from predominantly rocky planets to planets that contain more volatiles — ices, which would make it a mini-ice giant. In the case of Kepler-452b, we don’t know if it’s a big rocky planet or if it’s a mini-Neptune.”
The similarities between Kepler-452b and Earth continue to emerge as it was also found that the star Kepler-452b is 20 percent brighter than the Sun, 10 percent larger and also 1.5 billion years older, with the same temperature as the star around which our own planetary system is built.
According to Bill Cochran of the Kepler mission and professor at the University of Texas, Austin, the Kepler Space Telescope findings, including that of Kepler-452b planet are increasingly indicating that perhaps
“all of the stars that we see in the sky probably host planetary systems. Now we are discovering that a significant number of those systems are very much like our own and may have the capability of being habitable.”
As is the case with Kepler-452b. Earth 2.0 could be the potential host of life similar to that of Earth’s given that it has been in the habitable zone of its large Sun-like star for 6 billion year, but far enough to possibly harness the water resources necessary for life.
The findings on Earth’s twin, Kepler-452b are featuring in the Astronomical Journal.
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