Earth-like Exoplanet Kepler-1649c found: NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which was retired by the apex space agency in 2018, has given information about an Earth-sized exoplanet which may be capable of supporting human life, Space.com reported. According to the new study, the exoplanet called Kepler-1649c circles a red-dwarf star which lies at a distance of 300 light years from the Earth. The exoplanet is also estimated to be completing its orbit every 19.5 Earth days, the study adds. The less distance from its host red-dwarf star, scientists believe, puts the exoplanet in the habitable zone where liquid water could exist on the world’s surface.
The intriguing world always gives us hope that a second Earth lies among the stars and it is waiting to be found, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, was quoted as saying by Space.com.
The method used by the Kepler spacecraft to hunt the planets was the transit method. The spacecraft kept a track of the tiny brightness dips caused by planets crossing their faces from the spacecraft’s perspective. Kepler gathered all the information about the exoplanets during two of its missions. The central mission of the spacecraft came to an end in the year 2013 and one extended mission called K2 which got wrapped up 17 months ago. Both the missions of the spacecraft were substantially successful in fulfilling the main objectives. Kepler was successful in spotting about two-thirds of the 4100 confirmed exo-planets that the astronomers have discovered so far. With the spacecraft collecting lots of information about the potential life-hosting planets, its findings are expected to keep the scientists occupied.
However, chances of tracing false positives cannot be ruled out in the case of Kepler as well. Other than the orbiting planets there are lots of things in the space that can cause stellar brightness. A team to determine the false positives was also constituted named Kepler False Positive Working Group. The same team also determined that Kepler-1649 had been falsely rejected as a false positive, the new study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters says.
As far as the specifications of the Keplar-1649c are concerned, it is 1.06 times the size of the Earth and receives around 75% of the stellar energy influx of what the Earth gets from the Sun. What draws the interest of the scientific community towards the newly discovered exoplanet is its proximity to the life conditions on the Earth.
TRAPPIST-1f and even Teegarden c are estimated to be close to the Earth in size but there is no exoplanet that is closer to Earth in size and temperature and which also lies in the habitable zone of the system. A neighbouring planet to Kepler 1649-c, Kepler 1649-b also revolves around the red-dwarf but it revolves at around half the distance of Kepler 1649-c making it too hot for human life.
Also, more research needs to be done with regard to the atmosphere and composition of air around the exoplanet. In addition, red-dwarfs radiate powerful flares frequently which could challenge the habitable prospects on the planet.