This is a stellar week for us: my classmate ryder is writing about the life cycle of a star, and now I have a big news for everyone: scientisis at NASA have discovered a new planet, called Kepler-22b, really similar to our Earth.
For the first time, astronomers using NASA’s Kepler space telescope have found an Earth-sized planet orbiting around a sun-like star in the so-called “Goldilocks” zone, not too near and not too far from its star, where water can exist in liquid form on the surface of a planet and conditions may be favorable for life.
Kepler-22b’s radius is about 2.4 times the radius of the Earth (about the half of Neptune’s), although its mass and surface composition is unknown.
The distance between Kepler-22b and its star is about 15% less than the distance between the Earth and the Sun, and the star brightness is about 25% less than that of the Sun. This combination of a shorter distance from the star and a lower stellar luminosity cause a moderate surface temperature. Scientists estimate that in the absence of an atmosphere, the equilibrium temperature would be approximately -11 °C. If the atmosphere produces a greenhouse effect similar in greatness to the same phenomenon on the Earth, the planet will have an average surface temperature of 22°C.
So..what about a Christmas Holiday on Kepler-22b? Enjoy yourself! 🙂