The Lowdown On Kepler-452b

PC: SETI Artist’s impression of Kepler 452-b

You knew I was going to come back to this, right? What can I do? Space exploration fascinates me and discoveries like this keep me up at night, wondering.

But, come on, this should keep everyone excited and up at night. We knew there were more Earth-like planets out there, but finding one so similar, so soon? Imagine everything that could be out there.

Kepler-452b is not the only habitable zone planet we have found so far. Even during the announcement of this planet, scientists also revealed the discovery of 11 other habitable planet candidates. If so, why is Kepler-452b so special?

To begin, all the other Earth-sized planets discovered so far are orbiting stars that are cooler and smaller than our Sun. Kepler-452b orbiting a G2-type star makes it more like Earth.

Also, Kepler-452b is very similar to Earth in how it is located compared to its sun, implying more chances of finding life form that’s similar to what can be found on Earth.

The age of its star, 1.5 billion years older than our Sun, is also worth considering. The age means it has had longer time for any potential life to evolve.

Kepler’s lead data analyst, John Jenkins, said, “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.”

What do we know of Kepler-452b aka Earth 2.0?

  • Kepler-452b is located 1,400 light-years away in the Cygnus constellation of the Milky Way.
  • It is orbiting a star called Kepler-452.
  • This star Kepler-452 is a G2-type star, just like our Sun.
  • Kepler-452 is 6 billion years old (1.5 billion years older than our Sun).
  • Kepler-452 has the same temperature, and is 20% brighter, and 10% larger in diameter than our Sun.
  • The planet is in the habitable zone, which means that it’s far enough away from its sun that its water won’t evaporate, but close enough so that it won’t freeze.
  • Since it is orbiting a larger star, it’s probably 10% warmer than Earth.
  • Kepler-452b takes 385 earth-days to orbit its sun.
  • The planet is 5% further from its star than Earth is from the Sun.
  • It is 1.6 times bigger than Earth.
  • Planets of this size, orbiting a star like Kepler-452 have a good possibility of being rocky, just like Earth.
  • The planet will likely have an atmosphere, clouds and an active geology.

However, it should be noted that we know very little about Kepler-452b, and we can’t say for sure that it’s habitable. The planet was discovered by the Kepler spacecraft monitoring the slight ‘dip’ in the brightness of its star as the planet passed in front of it.

There has been ground based observations but since the planet is so far away, what we have right now is not sufficient to actually see the planet. But come 2018, Hubble’s successor, the James Webb telescope will be launched and we will get to see the new planet. Until then we’ll keep dreaming.

Here’s a Kepler-452b hangout with SETI scientists–

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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