A New Venusian Look-Alike

A New Venusian Look-Alike [1]

A new member of the exoplanet club is sparking excitement in the astronomical community. Angelo et al. published in The Astronomical Journal (DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/aa615f) their discovery of an object 219 light years from Earth—Kepler-1649b — that is strikingly similar to our bright sister planet, Venus. With the help from the Kepler mission transit data and observations from the Mount Palomar Observatory in California, the team was able to analyze the flux of radiation onto the planet and the planet’s radius, concluding that the size and the amount of radiation it receives from its sun is consistent with the values for Venus. This Venus doppelgänger has a few notable differences, however. Kepler-1649b takes just nine days to orbit around a sun that’s one quarter the size of our own. The group noted that by default the planet must travel much closer to its pint-sized host star to receive the amount of radiation comparable to Venus. This might subject the planet to solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and large tidal effects, which can influence seasonality and geologic activity of the star. This Venusian look-alike is now on the research docket, to understand how it differs from Earth-like planets and what conditions might lead to habitability on a planet.

[1] See “Research News: A New Venusian Look-Alike”, APS News (26, 5,May , 2017, p. 1, 7)

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