NASA on Thursday announced the discovery of what could turn out to be Earth 2.0, Business Insider's Jessica Orwig reported: "the very first Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star in the perfect sweet spot where liquid water could be sloshing on the planet's rocky surface."
Now, it's entirely possible, as Wired's Sarah Zhang indicated, that the exoplanet — called Kepler 452b — could turn out to be nothing like Earth. It could even be a gas planet. Since the planet was discovered by telescope, it's very hard to verify all the details. But NASA scientists — who have a personal interest in presenting their work as big news — are calling it the most Earth-like planet found so far.
Scientists have been on the hunt for a potential Earth twin like Kepler 452b for decades. Here are the details, from Orwig:
- It's 60 percent larger than Earth.
- It's more likely rocky, but it could be a gas planet.
- It's about 1,400 light-years from Earth.
- Its orbit is 385 days.
- The planet and star it's orbiting are about 6 billion years old, so 1.5 billion years older than the sun.
- It's receiving about 10 percent more energy from its star than Earth gets from the sun.
And here's an infographic from NASA, which shows the other planets discovered with the Kepler telescope:
One thing scientists don't know is if the planet has life. But at least one NASA scientist, Jon Jenkins, was very excited about the possibility.
"It's simply awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star, which is longer than the age of the Earth," he said. "That's considerable time and opportunity for life to arise somewhere on the surface ... should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life on this planet [exist]."