NASA Identifies Earth’s ‘Older, Bigger Cousin’ in Sun-Like Star’s Habitable Zone

posted: 07/23/15
by: Danny Clemens
NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

NASA's Kepler Mission has identified the first promising candidate for Earth 2.0, another planet capable of harboring life, the agency announced today.

Named Kepler-452b, the exoplanet is 60% larger than Earth. Astronomers have yet to determine the exact mass and composition of Kepler-452b, although research suggests that it has a "good chance of being rocky".

Kepler-452b resides in the habitable zone of its star, Kepler-452. The exoplanet's location is important: the so-called habitable zone signifies the area surrounding a star where liquid water could pool on an orbiting planet's surface. While Kepler-452 is the same temperature as our Sun, it is 20% brighter and has a diameter 10% larger than our Sun.

"We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth's evolving environment," said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead.

"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," he added.

With the discovery of Kepler-452b, there are now 1,030 confirmed planets, with another 521 planetary candidates. Of those candidates, 9 have similar diameters to Earth and reside in the habitable zone of stars similar to our Sun.

Click here for more information from NASA

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