A planet more like Earth than any other exoplanet yet documented has been discovered by NASA scientists. The planet is called Kepler-452b, and although it is 60 percent bigger than our planet, it has a year that’s about 385 days long. Kepler-452b orbits a G-type star, just like our own sun but 1.5 billion years older.
Kepler data analysis lead Jon Jenkins of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, says:
The Kepler-452 system is located 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus.
The total number of planet candidates detected by the NASA’s Kepler planet hunting mission is now 4,696. Planet candidates need to followed-up with observations and analysis to verify they are actual planets. The confirmation process is very time consuming.
The likelihood that this planet has a rocky composition lies between 49% and 62%, according to the study’s authors, and is “well within the optimistic habitable zone of its star.”
Jon M. Jenkins et al. 2015 Discovery and Validation of Kepler-452b: A 1.6 R⨁ Super Earth Exoplanet in the Habitable Zone of a G2 Star The Astronomical Journal 150 56. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/150/2/56
Illustration: SETI institute