It may be the first of many, but it will always be the first. It was inevitable, inasmuch as we all thought it would happen sooner or later, but a chill still ran down my spine when I read what the Kepler planet finder discovered.
(Link) — But this new orb merits special status — because it’s the first planet to be officially confirmed to exist in the so-called “habitable zone.” It’s an ideal size. It orbits just the right distance from its star. And its star is a lot like our own sun. This means that the planet, called Kepler-22b, is the best bet yet to be a place with a thick atmosphere and a wet landscape.
Update: Estimates of surface temp are 70 to 80 F if it had an atmosphere roughly similar to earths. Via the Bad Astronomer the year is about 290 earth-days long. It could take two to three “years” to get a decent mass estimate.
Name suggestions: Xmass, Kepler, Enkidu …
You better believe ground-based observatories and probably the Hubble will be looking closely to learn everything we can about the new world and its star. The star is 600 light-years away and doesn’t even have a name as far as I know, at least not yet. Speaking of which, both alien planet and its sun could use a better name than Kepler 22B. I’ll be adding to this post with new info, cross linking it, and opening it up name suggestions on Daily Kos this week. But you guys get the first shot at naming ideas.
Hoddamn! BTW, my own working name until I hear a better one, is Xmass. Some perspective on various masses and respective disk size against sun-like star.