A team of transatlantic scientists, using reanalyzed data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, has discovered a potentially habitable Earth-size exoplanet 300 light-years away from us.
A potentially habitable Earth-size exoplanet
The said planet Kepler-1649c, which has 1.06 times larger than Earth. It receives about 75% the amount of light that Earth gets from the sun. In fact, it was discovered after scientists looked through old observations from Kepler, which the agency retired in 2018. Researchers reviewing Kepler data took a second look at the signature and recognized it as a planet. Between 2009 to 2018, NASA’s Kepler’s space telescope spotted over 2, 681 exoplanets and this one is the most similar in size, and potentially temperature, to our own planet, according to a new study.
“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. “The data gathered by missions like Kepler and our Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will continue to yield amazing discoveries as the science community refines its abilities to look for promising planets year after year.”
FYI, exoplanets are those found orbiting stars outside of our solar system. Researchers recently uncovered the planet in archival data collected by Kepler.
Kepler-1649c is located within the habitable zone of its star. It exists at just the right distance where liquid water can exist on the surface. This also suggests that it could support life. However, it orbits a red dwarf star, much smaller and cooler than our sun. In recent years, multiple exoplanets have been found orbiting these stars that are common in our galaxy.
Other the other hand, researchers don’t know much about the planet or its atmosphere, which could shift the temperature estimate. Researchers know that another planet similar in size orbits the star much closer, similar to Venus in our solar system, according to NASA.
The Astrophysical Journal Letters published an article last Wednesday, April 15.
“Out of all the mislabeled planets we’ve recovered, this one’s particularly exciting – not just because it’s in the habitable zone and Earth-size, but because of how it might interact with this neighboring planet,” said Andrew Vanderburg, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin and author of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. “If we hadn’t looked over the algorithm’s work by hand, we would have missed it.”
In fact, Kepler 1649c joins other intriguing finds that are close in size to Earth. Of course, these include TRAPPIST-1f in the TRAPPIST system 39 light-years from Earth. Exoplanets like TRAPPIST-1D and TOI 700d are considered similar in temperature to Kepler-1649c.