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Kepler 22b-Our New Home Away From Home?

Updated on December 10, 2011

Artist's rendition of earthlike twin Kepler 22b


Which Planet Do I Phone Home To? Or Maybe I should Be Asking-Which Way Is Home??

Extraterrestrials At one time or another, may have visited planet earth. But if they really do exist, they would have been confused in trying to distinguish Kepler 22b from planet earth.
Extraterrestrials At one time or another, may have visited planet earth. But if they really do exist, they would have been confused in trying to distinguish Kepler 22b from planet earth. | Source

Could it really be true that we may have finally found earth's twin. According to reports from NASA, the kepler space telescope has zeroed in on a planet orbiting a star some 600 light years beyond our solar system. Somewhere in the vicinity between the constellations of Lyra and Cygnus, a region of the sky that makes up over 150,000 stars. If we do indeed find life to exist on that planet; which orbits a similar type of orange-yellow star comparable in surface temperature to our own sun. Than we will certainly have something to write home about. The only problem is that if scientist's do make the final conclusion that this exoplanet, approximately two and a half times larger than earth, does contain a habitable atmosphere containing the necessary ingredients to sustain life as we know it. Than the only discouraging thing would be getting to Kepler 22b before our lives here on earth were over.

It would not only be quite a challenge reaching this alien planet, but to add quite a hike as well; from mother earth travelling to this alien planet in a spacecraft, like the shuttle for example. Currently a vehicle like the Space Shuttle can travel at sustained speeds of between 16,000 to 18,000 miles per hour. Even at these speeds, we would not reach our tentative new home, until approximately 23,000,000 years from now. Yikes! talking about major jet lag, well this is definitely one trip you will want to make sure that you pack plenty of reading material for.

It is not old news that space telescopes like Kepler, Spitzer and Hubble for example; have detected other planetary candidates orbiting their respective parent stars. In fact there are at least 500 potential candidates beyond our own galactic neighborhood, that may harbor some sort of life. But aside from these other planetary candidates, Kepler 22b as of now, appears to be the real gem, in terms of being located within the perfect parameters. In fact Kepler 22b is so very much like our own planet, that it if you were on this planets parent star facing this world. It would appear that you were literally looking at earth. In fact very much like looking through a two way mirror so to speak.

And if scientist's are correct in their overall assumption about the climatic conditions that may also exist on Kepler 22b. Than we may be enjoying year round temperatures of about seventy-two degrees fahrenheit year round. If you have ever been to San Francisco, using this major city as an example. You may have noticed that throughout the changing seasons; the daytime temperatures in and around the city tend to hover around this temperature consistently throughout the year. Even though it tends to get a bit cooler during the evening hours.

What makes this alien world so unique to earth is also the fact that it orbits it's parent star just a little under a year. It takes earth 365 days or one year to make a complete pass around our sun. Kepler 22b completes its orbit around its sun, in just 290 days. It's almost peculiar, even eerie when you think about it for a moment. This is also a good indication that this world may contain water and some sort of solid rocky surface much like earth. It has been found through prior observations of other exoplanets, that if they orbit rather quickly around their parent stars. Let's say between 75 to 90 days for example. Than this in most circumstances, suggests that this planet may be far too hot on its surface, to sustain any form of life as we know for life to thrive.

Exoplanets which orbit their parent stars at this distance are very similar in comparison to Venus and Mercury, which in turn orbit very close to our own sun. These two inner planets of our solar system, are nothing but blazing infernos, composed of molten lava and poision gases. A scenario that would pretty much be found to be the same on Kepler 22b; if it orbited its star in about 80 days or so. On the other hand we know that if a planet orbits a parent star at a longer orbital period, like earth orbits the sun. Than there is a very good possiblility, that this world may be more temperate on the surface...very much like our own earth is.

Given that Kepler 22b is located directly within the habitable zone, is the strongest indicator alone, suggesting that water is moving freely about on its surface. It is a bit closer to its sun than our earth is, by about fifteen percent. And the star that it orbits is almost identical to our own sun. Except for the fact that it may be just a tad cooler. But in terms of spectral class, it is a G2 star-the same spectral class as our sun.

As exciting as this may all seem to everyone here on earth, including astronomers. Further studies of Kepler 22b need to continue, in an effort, to verify that this earth like world; is one that without a doubt, has a solid surface and contains water in some form. Because there is always the slightest possiblility that it could be composed strictly of gases, much like that of gas giant Neptune. There is also a remote chance that Kepler 22b could be strictly made up of nothing but water. A virtual water world, composed of nothing but 100 percent ocean, void of any land mass. Never the less, this Super Earth still deserves further observation.

SETI (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence), has also made additional use, of its resources recently, to search for potential intelligent radio signals radiating from the direction in and around the Kepler 22b star system. All in an ongoing effort to detect any potential signs of some sort of intelligent life, in that region of space. One thing we can be most certain of, is that if ET does one day answer SETI's radio signals, sent out into those silent voids of deep space. You can bet that this particular alien life form that does answer, will surely be confused over which planet to call home-earth, or Kepler 22b.

Kepler 22b star system

Kepler 22b orbits its parent star in a habitalbe zone very similar to that of our own sun in comparison. It also orbits its sun in just under 3 months sooner than earth orbits our own sun.
Kepler 22b orbits its parent star in a habitalbe zone very similar to that of our own sun in comparison. It also orbits its sun in just under 3 months sooner than earth orbits our own sun. | Source


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    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hello Marcus:

      It would be nice if we could call this planet our new home in the very near future. However the trip to this planet alone would be exhausting to say the least. And at the distance it is from our own earth, it still needs to be researched in more detail by astronomers, to verify that it really does contain a suitable atmosphere-water etc...just like the earth. So don't get too excited just yet because I do not think that any of us here on earth are going to Kebler anytime soon. It's always nice to dream though is it not?


    • profile image

      marcus 6 years ago


      this is awsome information. i wonder if they really have life on it? do the people on the planet that live on it look just like us? i really want to know because we might be able to live there and improve our survival on the new planet!

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hi credence:

      Thanks for your feedback in reference to my article about Kepler 22. Unlike yourself, I tend to be an optimist and believe anything is possible. People thought Einstein was somewhat of a nut, yet he figured out the popular formula for what we now know to be the speed of light. E=MC2. But you do bring up some good points and even though I tend to be an optimist. I know that we will only be able to study Kepler 22 in more detail through the eyes of our most powerful space telescopes. We without a doubt will never be able to reach the Kepler planetary system, at least not in our life times. Yourself as well as I and Matte know that too-let's not fool ourselves. It's nice to fantasize thought, is'nt it? Good to hear from you again in reference to this hub and thanks for all of your input so far. Take care.


    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Greetings, JL, and Matte. I must say that I am intrigued by your dialogue. Let's face it, 600 light years is not exactly just across the street. You both might find this web site interesting as it attempts to gauge where we will be technologically within the remainder of this century and beyond.

      In the fictional Star Trek world, at Warp 9, it would take 4-5 month to traverse the distance of 600 light years. Whiile a great deal has been achieved over the last century, the possibility, without unforseen breakthroughs in propulsion technology and a repeal of Einstein's theories, of having this technology available in a century is quite a stretch. But, I don't like to rule out any possibility which I speak of in

      Being able to get to that planet within less than half a millenium breaches presently understood physics about the universe's speed limit

      It is not for me to say what is and is not possible, as that would indicate a "failure of nerve". Have a look at this article if you get a moment.


    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hello matte:

      Thank you for your comments and glad you found the information useful in some way. You're absolutely correct when you mention the trip to Kepler may be a long given today's present technology. But in a 100 years or so, it may take us no more time to get to that star system, than it does our own moon . Take care.


    • mattforte profile image

      Steven Pearson 6 years ago from Spanaway, WA

      I too, read about Kepler22b the day it hit the news. I think it's exciting that we've gone from just "assuming" there had to be other earth-like planets, to actually finding one this similar, in just a few years. It bodes well for the likelihood of there being billions more out there.

      As for the distance - it may be a long trip now, but who knows where technology will be in 100 years. I know in 1911 nobody guessed we'd be playing Angry Birds on our telephones.

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hi CS:

      thank you for your comments in reference to my article about Kepler22b. Glad that you found it useful and interesting in some way. I always try to provide my readers with an interesting read, no matter what topic I am writing about. However when it comes to medicine and sciences such as Astronomy, than it makes it just that much easier to convey the message over to my readers. Also welcome as a newbie to hubpages and thanks for being a fan of mine. Take care.


    • chetsala profile image

      chetsala 6 years ago

      Thanks for this insiteful hub. It's amazing what modern science can discover these days.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Hi, JL, I remain a bit more pessimistic. The technology to visit or even probe such a body probably lies well beyond of lifetimes. Venus would be considered in the habitable zone but due primarely to the density and composition of its atmosphere, it is instead, the most hellish of places, inhabitable even with life support aid. I wonder what the gravitational field would be on the surface of the new planet. The astrophysicists tell me that atmospheric oxygen is not something commonly expected because of oxygen's tendency to bind and react with other elements. I read the account (discovery) yesterday and was most intrigued. It has to be tough to try to estimate so much from a distance of 600 light years, its inconceivable. I just as well be an ant aspiring to get to the peak of Mt Everest. The science of the studies of exoplanets is most interesting and I follow it closely, thanks for an interesting read Cred2

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 6 years ago from Long Island, New York


      Glad that you enjoyed my article about Kepler and found interesting, the information that I added to spice it up. Also thanks for voting it up in addition.


    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      If I get jet-lag going to Kepler 22 then it might be easier on the return trip. I could take my laptop with me and get a lot of Hubs written in 23 million years.

      On a more serious note, I knew of this from the news, but your Hub added many missing details that I didn't know. Thanks for writing about it. Voted up and interesting.

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 6 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hello fellow hubbers:

      I appreciate all of your insightful comments to date. In addition I'm glad you found the content useful and interesting to you all, in some way or another. As homstead and f_hruz briefly mentioned, we should first understand the species right on our own world, before we begin to think about future possiblilities of communicating with other advanced civilizations. After all we do not want to offend anyone else out there, by using the wrong speech. We also would have to work on our current rocket technology, so we can reach a world like Kepler 22, a lot sooner than in 23 millions years.

    • f_hruz profile image

      f_hruz 6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Great hub!

      If we only tried to learn to communicate with other highly developed life forms right here on earth, like the whales and dolphins, we'd stand a much better chance to learn how to relate to extra terrestrial life when the opportunity comes!

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      You know, I find this to be very interesting, but if it is so far away, how can it ever help us? 23,000,000 years is quite a long time.

    • CWanamaker profile image

      CWanamaker 6 years ago from Arizona

      Space is so Interesting. I do hope that we can explore this planet further. It would be nice to know if it harbors any life at all.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 6 years ago from India

      Just now i have come across this news in News Paper too. Good article, thanks for sharing :)


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