German Scientists discover new exoplanet orbiting star with similar size and conditions to that of the Earth and Sun, the first ever practical mirror of the Earth and Sun found in the universe


According to SciTechDaily, a new exoplanet orbiting a star three thousand light-years away was discovered by a team led by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany. The star called Kepler-160, and its companion called KOI-456.04, are more reminiscent of the Sun-Earth system than any previously known exoplanet-star pair. Kepler-160 emits visible light, in contrast to most central stars to exoplanets that emit infrared radiation, which is fainter than visible light. This ability to emit visible light allows for this star to be capable of supporting life in a similar way to the Sun. Kepler-160’s “radius of 1.1 solar radii, surface temperature of 5200 degrees Celsius (300 degrees less than the Sun), and very Sun-like stellar luminosity make it an astrophysical portrayal of our own parent star” (SciTechDaily). Furthermore, KOI-456.04 is less than twice the size of the Earth, and although it is quite large, its distance from Kepler-160 allows it to be in the habitable zone and may have a surface temperature life forms can live in. ~

When searching for exoplanets, scientists usually look for repeating brightness variations of stars. These temporary dimmings, usually just one percent or less of the apparent stellar brightness, can be caused by planets orbiting their host stars as seen from Earth. Michael Hippke and Dr. René Heller used a detailed physical model of the stellar brightness variation instead of searching for a step-like jump-to-dimming and then jump-back-to-normal brightness pattern in stellar light curves. “Our improvement is particularly important in the search for small, Earth-sized planets,” Heller explains, “The planetary signal is so faint that it’s almost entirely hidden in the noise of the data. Our new search mask is slightly better in separating a true exoplanetary signal from the noise in the critical cases” (SciTechDaily) ~ 

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