28 October 2020

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Earth-Sized, Habitable Exoplanet Is Found in Kepler Data

While reanalysing data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, a group of scientists discovered Kepler-1649c, a habitable exoplanet similarly sized to Earth.

While reanalysing data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, a group of scientists discovered Kepler-1649c, a habitable exoplanet similarly sized to Earth.

While computer algorithms had previously misidentified this exoplanet, researchers took a second look at the data and found Kepler-1649c.

Out of all the exoplanets found by Kepler, this planet, located 300 light-years from Earth, is most similar to Earth. With the almost identical size and estimated temperature, this could be a possible home to alien life.

An image showing the comparison of Earth and Kepler-1649c.
A comparison of Earth and Kepler-1649c. Credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/Daniel Rutter

This exoplanet is found to be only 6% larger than Earth, and to receive 75% of the amount of light Earth receives from our Sun. Unfortunately, the planet’s environment could cause some challenges for any potential life as Kepler-1649c orbits a red dwarf. Known for their stellar flares, a sudden eruption of magnetic energy, red dwarfs could render Kepler-1649c uninhabitable.

“This intriguing, distant world gives us even greater hope that a second Earth lies among the stars, waiting to be found,”

said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

There are still a lot of unknowns regarding this exoplanet. Scientists are yet to calculate the composition of its atmosphere and whether Kepler-1649c is susceptible to the stellar flares. Due to the large distance separating Kepler-1649c and Earth, astronomical calculations are prone to large margins of error.

Conclusion

The universe is vast and constantly expanding. With red dwarfs, one of the most common stars in the universe, scattered all around the universe, there is a large probability that there could be a planet orbiting with identical properties to Earth. Increasing the chances of finding extraterrestrial life or quite simply, another home planet.

The exponential increase in population and pollution is pushing Earth to its limits. We don’t have that long left on Earth, and we need to find an alternative. With the developments of technology, it wouldn’t take scientists too long to find another Earth

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