by Alan Yuhas
Scientists on the hunt for extraterrestrial life have discovered “the closest twin to Earth” outside the solar system, Nasa announced on Thursday.
Working off four years’ worth of data from the Kepler space telescope, researchers from Nasa, the Seti Institute and several universities announced the new exoplanet along with 12 possible “habitable” other exoplanets and 500 new candidates in total.
The new planet, named Kepler 452b, is “the closest twin to Earth, or the Earth 2.0 that we’ve found so far in the dataset”, said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for Nasa’s mission directorate.
“This is the first possibly rocky, habitable planet around a solar-type star,” said Jeff Coughlin, a Seti scientist. All 11 previously discovered exoplanets of a similar size and orbit travel around stars that are smaller and cooler than the sun.
“It is the closest thing that we have to another place that somebody might call home,” said Jon Jenkins, a Nasa scientist. The planet is like Earth’s “older, bigger first cousin”, he said.
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