Science

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NASA finds previously missed exoplanet that could potentially be habitable for human life

MIT Technology Review/NASA

According to CNN, Nasa has recently found an exoplanet that could potentially support life. This planet, called Kepler-1649c, has a similar size and temperature to that of our earth. Kepler-1649c is 1.06 times bigger than the earth, which is within the range in which it could support life. Kepler-1649c also has similar temperatures to that of our earth while also getting about seventy-five percent of the sunlight Earth currently receives. While a lot of exoplanets have either the right size or the right temperature, there are a select few that have both. Not only is Kepler-1649c an exoplanet that has both the right temperature and size to nurture life, but it is also in the goldilocks zone from its star. The goldilocks zone is the distance from a star in which a planet can support liquid water. ~

Although it seems like the perfect fit to habit life, there are some problems to living on a planet such as Kepler-1649c. According to Inverse, Kepler-1649c orbits a red dwarf star. Red dwarf stars are the smallest and coolest among stars in the galaxy. This red dwarf star is 0.08 to 0.6 times as big as our sun. This means that the goldilocks zone is significantly closer to the star, with an orbit time of just about nineteen and a half earth days. Another problem with this red dwarf star is that red dwarf stars are known for stellar flare-ups, “a sudden increase in a star’s magnetic energy” (Inverse). But, the US National Library of Medicine claims “flares [do] not present a direct hazard for life on the surface of an orbiting habitable planet.” NASA also does not know the atmospheric conditions of Kepler-1649c, which could determine whether the exoplanet could truly support life or not. ~

Aside from these unknowns related to Kepler-1649c, there are also positives to finding this exoplanet. Inverse claims that the relative orbit ratio of Kepler-1649c and another planet indicates that the system will be consistent, stable, and long-lasting. “This intriguing, distant world gives us even greater hope that a second Earth lies among the stars, waiting to be found,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington (Inverse). ~

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