What kind of exoplanet Kepler-1649c is? Is it really similar to our own Earth? For now, it is difficult to provide an exact answer as this place is located three hundred light-years away from us. But despite this obstacle, some facts are already known.
Why Kepler-1649c could be suitable for humans?
According to astronomers who discovered Kepler-1649c, this planet is an Earth-size world orbiting around its home star in the so-called habitable zone. Studies also show that it is a rocky planet, and its surface could potentially hold liquid water. Habitable zone plus water means this place could really be suitable for humans to live in.
How do scientists know what this exoplanet may look like? How was this extrasolar planet detected? In this article you will find the answers to these questions and the top facts about Kepler-1649c.
Top facts about Kepler-1649c
- Kepler-1649c was detected in 2020. Astronomical observations were conducted using the Kepler space telescope, which was retired from service in 2018. The initial review of the collected data did not reveal any interesting objects. But when the same observations were reviewed later, astronomers determined a signature of an extrasolar planet that was missed in the earlier analysis. It was seven years after data collection had stopped.
- This planet is of a very similar size to Earth: its mass is 1.2 times that of Earth, and its radius is around 1.02 times that of Earth. We would have no problems with our weight on its surface.
- Based on its mass and radius, astronomers predict that it is a terrestrial planet made of rock.
- The rocky surface of Kepler-1649c could mean that the planet is able to sustain liquid water. But astronomers have not confirmed this possibility due to the lack of the exoplanet’s atmosphere measurements.
- Unlike Earth, the planet orbits a red dwarf (our Sun is a yellow dwarf, which means it is hotter and gives off more energy).
- The planet receives 75% of the light from its host star that Earth receives from the Sun. Therefore, there may be liquid water on the planet if it has a heat-trapping atmosphere. For that, the atmosphere should contain much more carbon dioxide and/or methane than Earth.
- As of 2021, astronomers have not detected any solar flares from its home star. This could be a good sign. But stars of this type usually are prone to increased occurrences of flare-ups which could strip the planet of its atmosphere.
- It orbits within the habitable zone of its star system, Kepler-1649 (0.0649 AU from the star). It takes 19.5 Earth days to orbit its star.
- Kepler-1649c is located about 301 light-years (92 pc) away from Earth, in the constellation of Cygnus.
- Given the short distance between the planet and the star, it is probable that the planet is tidally locked. It means that the planet takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its star, similar to the system of Earth and Moon. Therefore, one side of the planet would be very hot as it is always directed toward the star, while the other would be extremely cold.
- Out of all the exoplanets that were found by the Kepler space telescope, this distant world is the most similar to our Earth in its size, amount of natural light, and estimated surface temperature. That is why it belongs to the type of exoplanets called Super-Earths.
- Astronomers have also detected a second planet orbiting the same star, called Kepler-1649b. This planet is of a similar size to our home world, too. Its, atmosphere, however, is more similar to Venus, and therefore this planet could be less hospitable for life as we know it.
Kepler-1649c is indeed very similar to our Earth – but only if we measure this similarity based on the currently available data. In reality, a lot of additional observations are needed to confirm if this planet has an atmosphere or not, or if it is capable to sustain liquid water on its surface.
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