NASA Finds Earth-Size Habitable-Zone Exoplanet In Older Kepler Data


NASA astronomers have found a new planet that is nearly the same size as the Earth and falls in NASA's habitable-zone. This means that liquid water could exist on the planet's surface, which means it could even sustain life, a new study finds. The planet- Kepler-1649c, is 300 light-years away from Earth.


NASA Discovers New Habitable-Zone Planet

NASA Discovers New Habitable-Zone Planet

NASA notes that the Kepler-1649c orbits a star that's about one-fourth the size of our Sun. The exciting factor here is that out of over 2,000 planets discovered using the Kepler Space Telescope, this planet is found to be very similar to Earth, both in size and estimated temperature as well.

Kepler-1649c planet

What's interesting is that that astronomers discovered the Kepler-1649c planet when looking through the old observations from the Kepler Space Telescope, which the agency retired in 2018. The Kepler mission was ended as it ran out of fuel, but scientists are still making remarkable discoveries as they continue to examine the data gathered over the 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, D.C. in a blog post.

It should be noted that many other exoplanets are estimated to be nearer to Earth in size. There are a few that are closer in terms of temperature. However, NASA points out that there is no other exoplanet that is closer to Earth in both of these values and also lies in the habitable zone of its system.

Is Life Possible On Kepler-1649c?

Is Life Possible On Kepler-1649c?

"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," Zurbuchen added.

The data reveals that the Kepler-1649c exoplanet is only 1.06 times larger than the Earth. The amount of starlight it receives from its star is about 75% of the amount of light Earth receives from our Sun, which means that the exoplanet's temperature may be similar to our planet's, as well.

However, unlike Earth, the Kepler-1649c planet orbits a red dwarf. This type of star is known for stellar flare-ups that may be quite challenging environmentally for any potential life, NASA noted.

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