Finding your Twin – Kepler-22b

The planet Kepler-22b

After years of waiting, nothing came. So instead of waiting we found a planet.

Kepler-22b is NASA’s latest discovery. The incredibly awesome Kepler telescope has been searching for earth-like planets for years now. This is the first instance in our history that we have found a planet similar to our own. A twin if you will. Except we have no idea what it is made of and it is 2 1/2 times our size. It has an orbit similar to Earth, which makes Kepler-22b’s year (290 days) as close to ours as possible. As they said on badastronomy,

[T]hat puts the planet inside of that star’s habitable zone, the distance where, given certain planetary conditions, liquid water can exist. It may be that life can arise where there’s no water, but we know life on Earth needs water, so if we’re looking for habitable planets it makes sense to look for the possibility of water there.

NASA has provided one theoretical image of Kepler-22b. I mean, it is 600 light years away, it’s kinda hard to see. Yet this definitively proves there are water-bearing planets in our universe, leading to the possibility of life. Kepler will find more planets like ours, but how many and how close will they be to us?

Alec

6 Comments Finding your Twin – Kepler-22b

  1. Fred December 9, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    Haha, great Radiohead shout-out.

  2. Matty December 9, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    Um, this doesn’t “definitely prove” there’s other planets with liquid water at all. Just sayin’

  3. Chase December 9, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    What i want to know is how long NASA has known about this planet? At least 5 years if not more!

  4. coin lock December 12, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    i love this type of stuff, opens my mind wide up thinking about another earthlike planet somewhere… reminds me of Melancholia too. im feeling the packed like sardines shoutout as well

  5. RSB December 12, 2011 at 12:21 AM

    I’m curious as to what effects the increased mass would have on the creation of life..?

    Also, just some quick calculations… Milky Way alone has 100-400 billion stars and is estimated to have at least 50 billion planets, 500 million of which could be located in the habitable zone of their parent star, and that is just 1 galaxy…

    I read somewhere that a recent German super-computer estimated that there are 500 billion galaxies

    so that’s… something like 2.5 × 10^20 possible inhabitable planets in the Universe… too big to really even comprehend (for me at least).

    I’m excited we found one with our telescopes. I believe there will be many more to follow!

  6. Alue December 14, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    Actually, they have known about it only 3 years. That is how long it takes to confirm a new planet. If they say they found a new planet once they spotted it, the planet could never come around and they would be spammed with new planets.

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