If life on earth in 2020 has become too much for you, it might be time to find a vehicle that can travel 3,000 light-years to take you to Exoplanet KOI-456.04. The exoplanet is twice the size of earth, but a group of scientists said last week they believe it could be habitable for humans. It orbits a star similar to the earth's sun, creating a "mirror image" trillions of miles away.
Scientists at Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany, and a team of international astronomers announced the discovery of the exoplanet Friday. It is just over 3,000 light-years from our solar system, and one light-year is about 6 trillion miles. Experts said Exoplanet KOI-456.04 is located inside a "stellar habitable zone," meaning it is about as far from the star it orbits as the earth is from the sun.
"KOI-456.04 sits in a region of the stellar habitable zone – the distance range around a star admitting liquid surface water on an Earth-like planet – that is comparable to the Earth's position around the Sun," the scientists explained in a statement, notes Fox News. The exoplanet's host star, Kepler-160, is also different from other central stars for most exoplanets because it "emits visible light; the central stars of almost all other exoplanets, on the other hand, emit infrared radiation, are smaller and fainter than the Sun and therefore belong to the class of red dwarf stars."
Scientists have known that Kepler-160 hosts two other exoplanets called Kepler-160b and Kepler-160c for about six years. Those objects would be inhospitable to life, as they are both located too close to Kepler-160 and have incredibly high surface temperatures. "But tiny variations in the orbital period of planet Kepler-160c gave scientists a signature of a third planet that had yet to be confirmed," the scientists noted. So, German and U.S. scientists went back to Kepler data and used a new search algorithm to discover KOI-456.04. Further analysis helped them learn that at least four planets may orbit Kepler-160.
The scientists did include a disclaimer in their announcement, though. KOI-456.04 cannot be formally named a planet just yet. "It cannot currently be ruled out completely that KOI-456.04 is, in fact, a statistical fluke or a systematic measurement error instead of a genuine planet," the statement read. "The team estimates the chances of a planetary nature of KOI-456.04 to be about 85% pro planet. Obtaining a formal planetary status requires 99 percent."
Scientists from NASA, the Sonneberg Observatory in Germany, the University of Göttingen and the University of California in Santa Cruz also took part in the research. It was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. The Max Plank Institute previously made headlines last month when researchers there announced they discovered Galaxy DLA0817g, a rotating disk galaxy from the early universe.