“Super Earth” Kepler-452b Lies in Habitable Zone of Distant Star
The search for life on other worlds has taken multiple bold steps this week. Earlier, famed physicist Stephen Hawking helped announce a new $100 million search for intelligent life. Now, NASA has announced the discovery of the first near-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a sun-like star.
In an announcement released today, the American space agency revealed that its Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the so-called “Goldilocks Zone” of the Kepler-452 system. According to NASA, the discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark “another milestone in the journey to finding another Earth.”
The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030.
Dubbed Kepler-452b, the planet is the smallest to date discovered orbiting in the area of a star where liquid-water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery is even more significant because the star in question is a G2-type star, like Earth’s own sun.
While small compared to other discovered exoplanets, Kepler-452b is still 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth. Thus, it is considered to be a “super-Earth-size” planet. NASA has not reached a conclusion as to its mass or composition, but previous research indicates planets of the super-Earth-size variety have a good chance of being rocky.