A lookalike of Venus discovered using NASA’s Kepler space telescope

10 April 2017, 03:07 PM
Venus (Source: PTI)
Venus (Source: PTI)

Astronomers have discovered a lookalike of Venus using NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which is orbiting a dim star that is one-fifth the diameter of our Sun.

This new planet is situated 219 light years away from Earth and is only slightly larger than it.

It tightly embraces its low-temperature star called Kepler-1649, encircling it every nine days.

The tight orbit results in the flux of sunlight reaching the planet to be 2.3 times as great as the solar flux on Earth. For comparison, the solar flux on Venus is 1.9 times the terrestrial value.

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M dwarf stars are by far the most common type in the universe and this discovery will provide comprehension into the nature of planets around these stars.

The study of planets similar to the Venus twin Kepler 1649b is "becoming increasingly important in order to understand the habitable zone boundaries of M dwarfs", said Isabel Angelo, a scientist at SETI Institute, a research organisation in the US.

According to Angelo, "There are several factors, like star variability and tidal effects, that make these planets different from Earth-sized planets around Sun-like stars".

Elisa Quintana, from the SETI Institute and NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, said "Many people are hung up on finding other Earth's. But Venus analogues are just as important".

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"Since new telescopes coming down the pike will allow us to probe atmospheres, focusing on both Earth and Venus analogs may help decipher why, in our Solar System, one planet allows life to thrive, and one does not, despite having similar masses, comparable densities, etc", said Quintana, a member of the Kepler 1649b discovery team.

First Published: Monday, April 10, 2017 07:42 AM
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