Friday, July 24, 2015

NASA Says Data Reveals Kepler 452b, an Earth-Like Planet - nytimes

Inching ahead on their quest for what they call Earth 2.0, astronomers from NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting spacecraft announced on Thursday that they had found what might be one of the closest analogues to our own world yet.

It is a planet a little more than one and a half times as big in radius asEarth. Known as Kepler 452b, it circles a sunlike star in an orbit that takes 385 days, just slightly longer than our own year, putting it firmly in the “Goldilocks” habitable zone where the temperatures are lukewarm and suitable for liquid water on the surface — if it has a surface.

The new planet’s size puts it right on the edge between being rocky like Earth and being a fluffy gas ball like Neptune, according to studies of other such exoplanets. In an email, Jon Jenkins of NASA’s Ames Research Center, home of the Kepler project, and lead author of a paper being published in The Astronomical Journal, said the likelihood of the planet’s being rocky was 50 percent to 62 percent, depending on uncertainties in the size of its home star. That would mean its mass is about five times that of Earth.

The star that lights this planet’s sky is about 1.5 billion years older than our sun and 20 percent more luminous, which has implications for the prospects of life, Dr. Jenkins said. - Read More at the  an Earth-Like Planet

NASA Says Data Reveals Kepler 452b, an Earth-Like Planet


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