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Space & Astronomy

Kepler data reveals hidden Earth-like exoplanet

By T.K. Randall
April 17, 2020 · Comment icon 6 comments

An artist's impression of Kepler-1649c. Image Credit: NASA / Ames Research Center / Daniel Rutter
Scientists have discovered one of the most Earth-like extrasolar worlds ever seen and they almost missed it.
The hunt for alien worlds in distant star systems has been going from strength to strength in recent years due in no small part to NASA's now-retired Kepler Space Telescope.

Now thanks to new computer software developed by researchers at NASA's Ames Research Center, another of Kepler's discoveries has come to light - one that had been hidden away deep in the data.

The planet, which is known as Kepler-1649c, is situated 300 light years away and is 1.06 times the size of the Earth - making it the most similar to our own planet of any Kepler world found to date.
Although Kepler-1649c is situated around a red dwarf star (which is cooler and dimmer than the Sun), it orbits close enough for there to be enough heat to make liquid water on its surface possible.

That said, we don't know its mass nor what kind of atmosphere it may have, so it's impossible to say right now just how likely it is to be habitable.

Kepler-1649c, like many other Earth-like exoplanets, will be a prime candidate for further study once NASA's long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope launches within the next few years.

"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.

Source: Extreme Tech | Comments (6)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by DieChecker 4 years ago
We've found these worlds. Now we need to figure out how to get there.
Comment icon #2 Posted by llegendary 3 years ago
The radiation from the red dwarf would kill off all life.
Comment icon #3 Posted by jbondo 3 years ago
Yeah, life as we know it. But, what if life there actually thrived on radiation, like the Radiotrophic fungi here on earth?
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 3 years ago
The flares from some red dwarfs are sufficiently powerful to destroy complex molecules like DNA. Life around such stars is unlikely to thrive because the complex chemistry necessary for life is unlikely to occur in the first place.
Comment icon #5 Posted by jbondo 3 years ago
If we are specifically talking about flares, then yes it would be an issue. However, if something was deep enough in such a planet's ocean.....Furthermore, we don't know how powerful these flares would be.That said, I wasn't disagreeing with you, just giving a for instance.
Comment icon #6 Posted by DieChecker 3 years ago
From what I remember water is really good at reducing radiation. Assuming such solar flares wouldn't be throwing enough heat to prevent liquid water. Then an ocean would still be a possible choice for life. Example article of water versus radiation...  

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