Friday, 24 July 2015

The discovery of Earth 2.0 (sort of)

NASA's Kepler space telescope has just discovered the most Earth-like exoplanet yet. Kepler 452b orbits a star very similar to our Sun and is at a comparable distance. For example, its orbital period is 385 Earth days. Not only that, it is rocky, albeit around 5 times more massive than Earth  - this corresponds to surface gravity of about 2g.

The next step will be to make further observations and potentially characterise its atmosphere - of course, it may be similar to Venus or Mars, but it could also be similar to Earth's atmosphere. If Oxygen and Nitrogen are key components of 452b's atmosphere, it seems so similar to Earth that life there is a real, if still slim, possibility!

It was also recently announced that a new hunt for alien radio signals will be initiated, supported by the likes of Professor Stephen Hawking. In addition to this, a new radio telescope called the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is being built - consisting of over 1000 telescopes around the world with a equivalent collecting area of 1 square km, and based in Jodrell Bank, it too will be able to hunt for faint radio signals from other worlds. We live in an exciting time - perhaps evidence of alien life is only a matter of years or decades away...

Here's the link to the scientific paper, published in The Astronomical Journal:

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