Hunting for Another Earth

April 11, 2022

There is no greater question in astronomy than its most basic: Are we alone?

Earth has all the ingredients needed for life; a warm, temperate climate, a substantial atmosphere of friendly gases, a healthy magnetic field, and — most importantly — liquid water.

Even though we've found more than 5000 exoplanets (that is, planets orbiting other stars), the hunt for a planet like ours remains elusive.

Or is it?

There are some captivating candidates, like Kepler-452b, which orbits a strikingly similar distance from its strikingly similar star. It is a super-Earth, with five times the mass and about twice the gravity.

We know nothing of its atmosphere — if it even has one — but there are other candidates that could be habitable, including one right on our celestial doorstep.

Comparison of the Kepler-186, Kepler-452 and Solar systems. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt

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