Although the Kepler planet-hunting telescope was refurbished in 2018, scientists still continue to analyze data from their findings. Kepler-1649c is considered the most Earth-like exoplanet, either because of its size, only about 6% higher, as its temperature. A study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters reports that the rocky planet orbits a habitable zone of its star, as quoted by Forbes.
Scientists have discovered 4,144 exoplanets through the data captured by Kepler, but Kepler-1649c is the most similar to the Blue Planet. It is incredible how we now discover it, seven years after the data collection of the original Kepler stopped, highlights Jeff Coughlin, co-author of the study at the SETI Institute.
According to the study, this new planet is 302 light years away, in the constellation Cygnus. It orbits a type M star, not visible from Earth, called Kepler-1649. The low-mass star, also known as red rings, is easily found in the Milky Way. The planet can receive about 75% of sunlight from its star, even if it is much smaller than our Sun, and the cycle of 19.5 days.
The document explains that the first computers that analyzed the data classified the planet as a false positive. The discovery came about due to a kind of visual double checking, with much of the data to be checked by hand. And ironically, this planet that had already been discarded, now one of the most curious of those that have been discovered, reinforces one of the experts involved in the project.
The importance of the planet refers not only to its size, like temperature, two important factors to replicate living conditions like the Earth. Scientists say that there are other exoplanets closer to Earth, but that only resemble each other in size, such as TRAPPIST-1f and Teegarden-c; and others with similar temperatures, such as TRAPPIST-1d and TOI700d. But neither with the two factors like Kepler-1649c, and still considering that the planet is in a habitable zone of its system.
The discovery of the planet also hints to scientists that terrestrial-looking planets in orbit around type M stars can be more common than around larger stars. Considering that there are several ring stars scattered throughout our galaxy, there is an increasing potential to find rocky planets with very similar conditions of life to Earth. This distant and intriguing world gives us more hope that a second Earth is among the stars, waiting to be found, says Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator at NASA.
Regarding this new planet, the only problem for the existence of life is the dwarf star in which it orbits. This occasionally explodes in radiation, which makes life impossible to develop. Kepler-1649c will continue to be studied, considering that its atmosphere is still unknown and there may be changes in temperature. For this purpose, the James Webb space telescope will be used to find out whether it is possible or not to accommodate life.