On the 5th of December Astronomers confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet around the “habitable zone” around a star not unlike our own.
The planet in question, Kepler 22-b, lies about 600 light-years away and is about 2.4 times the size of Earth, and has a temperature of about 22C. It is the closest planet that is a lot like ours – Earth 2.0 as some are calling it. However, the team does not yet know if Kepler 22-b is made mostly of rock, gas or liquid. At the conference for the announcement, the Kepler team also said that it had spotted some 1,094 new candidate planets – nearly doubling the telescope’s haul of potential far-flung worlds.
Kepler 22-b was one of 54 exoplanet candidates in habitable zones reported by the Kepler team in February, and is just the first to be formally confirmed using other telescopes. More such planets are bound to be confirmed, after reconsidering the details and bringing the possible candidates down to 48, 10 of which are Earth-sized. Kepler 22-b lies 15% closer to its sun than the Earth is to our Sun, and its year takes about 290 days. However, the planet’s host star puts out about 25% less light, keeping the planet at its balmy temperature that would support the existence of liquid water.
The results were announced at the Kepler telescope’s first science conference, alongside the staggering number of new candidate planets. The total number of candidates spotted by the telescope is now 2,326 – of which 207 are approximately Earth-sized. In total, the results suggest that planets ranging from Earth-sized to about four times Earth’s size – so-called “super-Earths” – may be more common than previously thought. As candidates for planets similar to Earth are confirmed, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Seti) has a narrower focus for its ongoing hunt.
Can you imagine if we find sentient lifeforms on this planet or any other? What if they are humanoid and about the same stage of progress as we are? Or are they capable of quick space travel and can reach us? What we get a chance to one day, sometime in the near future, meet one of these aliens who could possibly live on Kepler 22-b? What if I was that guy and an alien from that planet approached me? What would be my first words?
“Hi! Wanna beer?”