Astronomers discover possible Venus twin

Astronomers have discovered a new planet, which could possibly be a twin of Venus in our solar system. The planet was found closely orbiting a dim star.

Created On: Apr 10, 2017 16:15 ISTModified On: Apr 10, 2017 17:46 IST

Astronomers have discovered a Venus-like planet, 219 light years away. The discovery was made using NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

The newly discovered planet has been found closely orbiting a dim, low-temperature star called Kepler-1649, which is almost one-fifth the diameter of our Sun.

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Key Highlights

• The planet is only slightly larger than Earth.

• It tightly encircles the dim star, orbiting around it in every nine days.

• The tight orbit causes the sunlight reaching the planet to be 2.3 times greater than the solar flux on the Earth.

• The solar flux on Venus is 1.9 times the terrestrial value.

• This discovery will provide more insight into the nature of planets around M dwarf stars, which are by far the most common type in the universe.

• The study was published in AstroNOMICAL Journal.

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The M dwarf stars, though are redder and dimmer than the Sun, recent discoveries reveal the existence of Earth-sized planets encircling the dwarf stars in an orbit that would place them in the habitable zone of their star, similar to the Earth.

However, such planets may not resemble Earth wholly, especially with their climate, which could well be similar to that of Venus, with thick atmospheres and hot temperatures.

 Kepler Space Telescope

According to Isabel Angelo, scientist at SETI Institute, the study of Venus-like planets is becoming increasingly important to understand the habitable zones boundaries of these dwarf stars. She added by saying that if we wish to find life on other Earth-sized worlds, we should get to know the territory properly.

Elisa Quintana, SETI scientist and a member of the team that discovered Kepler 1649b, also stressed on the importance of studying Venus-like planets. She added that only the study focusing on planets similar to both Venus and Earth will help decipher why one planet allows life to grow and other does not despite having similar masses and comparable densities.

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