Searching for Home Elsewhere Series: Can humans survive on Kepler-452b?

This artist's concept compares Earth (left) to Kepler-452b, which is about 50% larger in diameter.

This is Part-5 of the series, ‘searching for home elsewhere.’ Part 4 was a very promising journey featuring Saturn’s Enceladus. Part 3 explored Neptune’s darknessPart 2 was a hopeful voyage with Jupiter’s Moon, Europa. Part one was romantic Venus.

Kepler-452b

Kepler-452b (a planet sometimes quoted to be an Earth 2.0 or Earth’s Cousin based on its attributes) is an exoplanet circling the Sun-like star Kepler-452 about 1,402 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.

*Before we continue, a light-year is a unit of astronomical distance equivalent to the distance that light travels in one year, which is 9.4607 × 1012 km (nearly 6 million miles).

Back to Kepler-452b, it was discovered by the Kepler space telescope, and its finding was announced by NASA on 23 July 2015. However, a study in 2018 by Mullally et al. implied that statistically, Kepler-452b has not been proven to exist and must still be considered a candidate. Moreover, its mass of 5 Earth masses increases the possibility that the planet is a mini-Neptune instead of a super-Earth. It is the first likely rocky super-Earth planet detected orbiting within the habitable zone of a star very similar to the Sun.

Features

Kepler-452b has a probable mass five times that of Earth, and its exterior gravity is nearly twice as Earth’s, though calculations of mass for exoplanets are only estimated estimates. If it is a terrestrial planet, it is most likely a super-Earth with many active volcanoes due to its higher mass and density. The clouds on the planet would be thick and misty, incorporating much of the surface as viewed from space.

The planet takes 385 Earth days to orbit its star. Its radius is 50% bigger than Earth’s and lies within the conventional habitable zone of its parent star. It has an equilibrium temperature of 265 K (−8 °C; 17 °F), a little warmer than Earth. However, since Kepler-452 is nearly 2 billion years older, at about 6.5 billion years, the rocky planet’s water and atmosphere that might still exist. Its surface temperature is calculated to be at 393 K (120 °C; 248 °F). Not bad. 

The host star, Kepler-452, is a G-type that is about the same mass as the sun, only 3.7% more massive and 11% larger. It has a surface temperature of 5757 K, nearly the same as the Sun, which has a surface temperature of 5778 K. Damn! The star’s age is estimated to be about 6.5 billion years old, about 1.9 billion years older than the Sun, which is 4.6 billion years old. From the surface of Kepler-452b, its star would look almost the same as the Sun as viewed from the Earth.

The star’s possible magnitude, or how bright it appears from Earth’s perspective, is 13.426; therefore, it is too faint to be seen with the naked eye.

Is it Habitable? 

It is not identified if Kepler-452b is a rocky planet but based on its small radius, Kepler-452b is likely to be rocky. It is not clear if Kepler-452b tenders habitable environments. It orbits a G2V-type star, like the Sun, which is 20% more luminous, with nearly the same temperature and mass. However, the star is 6.5 billion years old, presenting it 1.9 billion years older than the Sun. At this point in its star’s evolution, Kepler-452b is receiving 10% more energy from its parent star than Earth is currently receiving from the Sun. If Kepler-452b is a rocky planet, it may be subject to a runaway greenhouse effect similar to that seen on Venus. However, due to the planet being 60% bigger than Earth, it is likely to have an estimated mass of 5 M⊕, which could enable it to hold on to any oceans it may have for a longer period, preventing Kepler-452b from succumbing to runaway greenhouse effect for another 500 million years. This, in turn, would be followed by the carbonate–silicate cycle being “buffered” prolonging its lifetime due to increased volcanic activity on Kepler-452b. This could allow any possible life on the surface to inhabit the planet for another 500–900 million years before the livable zone is pushed out of Kepler-452b’s orbit.

WOW!

So, can we survive on Kepler-452b?

To be honest, it is very hard to say anything. Kepler- 452b is the most promising exoplanet that can sustain life but right now, we don’t have the technology to reach there. maybe around 800-1000 years later, we may be able to develop a space tech that could help us send a probe to Kepler – 452b quickly. I find this exoplanet very promising and yes, if we can reach there, we maybe able to survive and thrive. Just keep your summer clothes on as the planet is a little warmer than earth.

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