New Earth-like planet found orbiting a Sun-like star: Details here
In a major development, a team of researchers has discovered an Earth-like exoplanet revolving around a Sun-like star. The discovery, made by sifting through the data captured by Kepler Space Telescope, marks a major step forward in the ongoing search for worlds having the right conditions to host life. Here is all you need to know about it.
Ongoing search for habitable exoplanets
The search for an alien world capable of hosting life has spurred a hunt for exoplanets - planetary bodies sitting outside our own solar system. The first such body was discovered all the way back in 1992 and since then we have found thousands of these worlds. But, the problem is, exoplanets with conditions matching our own home are still extremely hard to find.
Problems often encountered in the search
Most exoplanets discovered until now have had things making them unsuitable for life - they are either too big, gas giants, water worlds, or too far/close to their stars. If nothing else, the planet could be orbiting a red dwarf, the most common type of star that is smaller than our Sun but capable of emitting high-energy flares that could easily fry a planet.
A viable candidate found around Kepler-160
As astronomers continue the search for viable exoplanets, a team of researchers is reporting the discovery of a possible world that appears to be replicating Earth-like conditions more closely. The body, officially dubbed KOI-456.04, is nearly two times as big as Earth and receives "about 93 percent of the light levels our planet receives".
Distance is also similar to Earth-Sun gap
Along with nearly similar light and size, KOI-456.04's distance from its star is also similar to the distance between Earth and Sun. Specifically, the exoplanet in question takes about 378 days to complete one full orbit of Kepler-160. This means things could be more suitable here for the existence, evolution, and survival of life as we know it.
Two new algorithms used to find the planet
The team discovered the exoplanet by using new algorithms to re-analyze old data collected by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. The algorithm looked at the dimming pattern of the star, which sits 3,140 light-years away from us, on a more granular level, and found the body.
Discovery needs to be confirmed
That said, it must be noted that scientists still have to confirm this discovery. Currently, the team is 85% sure that KOI-456.04 is a new exoplanet, and in order to give it the status of an exoplanet, 99% confirmation needs to be achieved. This is where data from the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope would come in.