A discovery of a planet like earth revolving around a similar sun has been discovered by scientists at NASA. Keplar-452b has more than one and half times more mass than earth with a year north of 384 days. The planet is located in the Cygnus constellation which is 1400 light years away from us and its Sun, Kepler-452, mirrors ours with roughly similar temperatures and a slightly larger diameter. Kepler-452b is rumored to be five times the mass of our planet with two times the gravity.

It’s incredible to realize we have a planet that has stayed within the habitable zone of its star far longer than earth. With perfect placement, this could allow for the ingredients for the creation of life, and although this discovery brings excitement and enthusiasm for astronomy and science in general, it is unlikely more discoveries will be made about this new “earth”.

To imagine the possibility of life on this planet requires a lot of speculation, because its more than a thousand light years away from us and scientists are doubtful if this planet is rocky like ours. Kepler-452b probably has a denser atmosphere, with liquid water and active seismic systems but all these are speculation.

Simulations suggest Keplar-452b may soon experience the same greenhouse effect experienced by Venus which drastically turned the planet from a life-friendly planet to the superheated surface it is today. But such a situation is unlikely to occur for another 500 million years if estimates are correct.

Map of a thousand galaxies Mapped by LOFAR

A group of international scientists have published the first segment of an important sky survey using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR). The survey maps out thousands of galaxies, revealing more information in many areas of study including the evolution of cluster galaxies. The Radio and radar astronomy field utilizes equipment which unveils processes in the Universe which cannot ordinarily be discovered by optical instruments.

In the first segment of the survey, LOFAR monitored a quarter of the northern hemisphere at very low frequencies and was able to map out over 300,000 sources, most of which were galaxies in a far-off universe. The radio signals they transmitted had travelled billions of light years to get to earth.

LOFAR is being managed by the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, and is an innovative instrument which is a collection of 100,000 antennas, scattered around 50 stations and connected a single supercomputer via fiber optic cables. Most of these stations are based in Netherlands but a few are spread quite across Europe.

The radio waves from these distant galaxies are basically created by electrons spinning along magnetic fields that are created by the black holes of these distant galaxies. Once these electrons have reduced speed, they give out low frequency radio waves which are then picked out by LOFAR. In other words, the instrument is picking out activity on a much longer time period than previous existing higher frequency radios.

The recent discovery by LOFAR should give more information on the creation of supermassive black holes from the beginning of the universe. The papers in Astronomy & Astrophysics, published by more than 200 scientists from over 17 countries, also captures the LOFAR data on cluster galaxies.

One of the scientists, Annalisa Bonafede – from the University of Bologna, states that one of the revealing things about the data is that even clusters that were isolated, which weren’t in contact with their neighbors still emitted radio transmissions from charged particles moving at great speed between galaxies, though at a very low frequency level.