Astronomers using NASA’s Kepler space telescope have discovered a Venus-like planet orbiting a dim star called Kepler-1649.
The newly found planet is one-fifth the diameter of our Sun and is only slightly larger than Earth. It is located 219 light years away from Earth.
- The Venus-like planet tightly embraces its low-temperature star Kepler-1649 by encircling it every nine days.
- The tight orbit around the star causes the flux of sunlight reaching it to be 2.3 times as great as the solar flux on Earth. For comparison, the solar flux on Venus is 1.9 times the terrestrial value (on earth).
- The discovery will provide insight into the nature of planets encircling around M dwarf stars, by far the most common type in the universe.
- Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty.
- It is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth’s “sister planet” because of their similar size, mass, proximity to Sun, and bulk composition. It has no natural satellite.
- But it is radically different from Earth in other respects. It has densest atmosphere of four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% CO2. The atmospheric pressure at its planet’s surface is 92 times that of Earth.
- Note: Venus is by far the hottest planet in the Solar System, with a mean surface temperature 462 °C even though Mercury is closer to the Sun.
About Kepler Space Telescope (KST)
- KST is an unmanned space observatory launched in 2009 by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
- It is tasked with determining how commonly, Earth-like planets occur throughout the Milky Way galaxy.
- KST works by observing a dimming in the light of a star, known as a transit, each time an orbiting planet passes in front of it.
- It has been designed for a statistical mission and not to probe into the environmental conditions of planets that exist in the so-called Goldilocks zone (Habitable zone) of their stars.