henrietta-foster

Here’s an artist’s comparison of Earth and the newly discovered Earth-like planet Kepler-452b. Kepler-452b is a real dud of a name, so I’m going to refer to the planet as Henrietta* for the rest of this post.

Here’s what we know:

  • Henrietta is 60% larger than Earth, so its gravity is twice as strong
  • A year on Henrietta is 385 earth days
  • It’s a bit farther away from its sun, but its sun is larger and hotter. That means Henrietta orbits in a sweet spot – a region of space that is not too hot and not too cold – the kind of place that could foster life.
  • Henrietta’s star is in the Cygnus constellation, about about 1,400 light years away from Earth

“Exoplanets, especially small Earth-size worlds, belonged within the realm of science fiction just 21 years ago,” the NASA statement says. “Today, and thousands of discoveries later, astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years — another Earth.”

Scientists don’t know if [Henrietta] could be habitable. Aside from not knowing what the planet’s composition is, they also don’t know what its atmosphere might be like.

“This is the beginning of a very long journey,” said Didier Queloz, a professor of astrophysics at Cambridge University.

*There’s no official approval of this name, but if you know someone at the IAU, pass it along.