In twin news, two separate papers published in the journal Nature have reported the existence of a planet just like Earth, more or less.
The planet Kepler-78b is 400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus the Turkey-headed Swan. According to researcher Andrew Howard of the University of Hawaii, the planet is “made out of the same stuff as Earth, in all likelihood”. Exoplanetologists hope one day to confirm the presence of matter and energy on Kepler-78b, just like Earth.
A similar paper was published by Francisco Pepe and astronomers at the University of Geneva. Pepe swears that he didn’t copy off of Howard’s paper.
Both papers noted the amazing similarities between our planet and the newly discovered Kepler-78b:
- Kepler-78b is far too hot to support life, just like Earth
- It is 20% wider than Earth, just like Earth
- It is 80% more massive than Earth, just like Earth
- Its year is 8.5 hours long, just like Earth
- Its surface temperature is 3680°F, just like Earth
- Kepler-78b’s orbit is only 99% closer to its star than Earth’s
Kepler-78b was discovered 87 Kepler/Earth years (KEYs) ago in September 2013 by NASA’s prolific Kepler Space Telescope, which was launched in March 2009 (nearly 5,000 KEYs ago). The telescope has been used to find nearly 3600 potential exoplanets, all of which are coincidentally named “Kepler”. (Kepler was hobbled in May when it accidentally discovered Jupiter and named it Kepler-401k.)
Kepler-78a turned out to be a squashed bug on the telescope lens, requiring a do-over.
Howard was pleased that errors made by the Swiss team* were similar to theirs. “We estimated that our numbers were flat-out wrong, but then their paper contained the same errors. The fact that we agree to within our errors — in science, that’s about as good as you can do.”
Differences of 20%-80% are not considered important in exoscience. Hot and Bright Star Danica McKellar (pictured above using exomath to calculate that she is 4’3″ tall and weighs 207 lbs.) explained. “Science is less about accuracy than about self-esteem. By making sure everyone is equally wrong, teenage girls can feel better about math.” The 40,106 KEY-old mathtress (who looks 24,274) explained that this was simply another example of how two wrongs always make a right.
Kepler-78b’s Earth-like orbit less than a million miles from its star “puzzles” astronomers. According to current exophysics theory, the planet couldn’t have formed where it is and couldn’t have formed farther away. One astronomer, who requested anonymity so he wouldn’t have to answer stupid questions, suggested that the planet was probably assembled from rocks brought from Mars by space dinosaurs, just like Earth.
A reception celebrating the new “Earth twin”, hosted by identical twins Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito (pictured below) is scheduled for next month.
(Click on the above picture of the Earth — or is it? — to read the original story.)
* The astronomers, not the Nittany Neutrals (3-3-1)