Astronomers confirm Kepler discovery of near twin of Earth

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Worlds without end! In the release today of another set of Kepler data, astronomers have announced the discovery in that dataset of a new twin of Earth.

The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone — the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet — of a G2-type star, like our sun. The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030. …

Kepler-452b is 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth and is considered a super-Earth-size planet. While its mass and composition are not yet determined, previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a good chance of being rocky. While Kepler-452b is larger than Earth, its 385-day orbit is only 5 percent longer. The planet is 5 percent farther from its parent star Kepler-452 than Earth is from the Sun. Kepler-452 is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our sun, has the same temperature, and is 20 percent brighter and has a diameter 10 percent larger.

While this exoplanet is certainly not identical to Earth, it is close enough that the possibility of alien life — really alien life — could very likely exist upon it.

The dataset also included 11 other Earth twin candidate exoplanets that still need to be confirmed.

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