Meet Kepler-452b, the ‘closest twin’ of Earth. It is so similar to our planet that the U.S. space agency NASA has dubbed it as “Earth 2.0.” NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which has been hunting for exoplanets since 2009, discovered Kepler-452b in the constellation Cygnus. The Earth-like planet is located about 1,400 light years away.
Kepler-452b situated in the Goldilocks zone
NASA said in a statement that the potentially rocky planet orbits its host star Kepler-452 at the same distance as Earth orbits our Sun. It is located in the “Goldilocks zone,” meaning it has the same temperature as Earth and may harbor liquid water. However, its host star is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our Sun.
— NASA Kepler (@NASAKepler) July 23, 2015
NASA said its star is 10% brighter and 4% more massive than our Sun. Since the star is older, it can offer a glimpse into the Earth’s apocalyptic future. If the planet is rocky, then its distance from the star suggests that it might be entering the greenhouse phase of its climate history. Heat from the dying star might be evaporating Kepler-452b’s oceans and lakes, said SETI Institute scientist Doug Caldwell.
NASA adds 500 more exoplanets to the list
Kepler-452b takes 385 days to complete an orbit around its star, just 5% longer than Earth’s orbit. However, the Earth’s twin is 60% bigger than our planet. It orbits around a G2-type star, the same category as our Sun. NASA astronomer John Grunsfeld said it was the “closest so far” from our planet.
On Thursday, NASA released data about 500 new exoplanets discovered by Kepler telescope, taking the total to 4675 possible planets. The latest catalog includes 12 candidates that orbit in the habitable zones of their stars. Of them, Kepler-452b is “the first to be confirmed as a planet.” We may not be lucky enough to travel to any of these planets. But our children’s children’s children may, said SETI Institute scientist Jeffrey Coughlin