Sen: Kepler-452b and the media.

Earth-Size Doesn’t Mean Earthlike.

Earth-Size Doesn’t Mean Earthlike.

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
July 28 2015 1:16 PM

Sen: Is Kepler-452b Really Earthlike?

Kepler-452b
Earth-size? Yes. Earthlike? <shrugs shoulders>

Drawing by NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

I recently wrote about the newly discovered exoplanet Kepler-452b. It’s bigger than Earth, but it orbits its Sunlike star in the habitable zone, where water could ostensibly exist on the planet’s surface.

The planet is actually 1.6 times the Earth’s diameter, and if I were a betting man, I’d wager it’s not Earthlike at all. Given what we think we understand about planets, it’s as likely to have a thick atmosphere like Neptune's as one like Earth's. Maybe more likely. But we just don’t know.

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Despite this, a lot of headlines were screaming about an Earthlike planet found, calling it “Earth’s twin.” Feh.

In fact, I feel “feh” so strongly that I wrote all about this for my biweekly column for Sen.com. You can go there to get the details of my “feh”-ness. It’s subscription only, but that includes getting lots of articles by lots of good writers … and there are more to come. You’ll like it.

And to be clear: I am excited about the discovery of this planet, and its implications. I just wish stuff like this weren't overhyped.