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Published April 2017 | Published
Journal Article Open

Kepler-1649b: An Exo-Venus in the Solar Neighborhood


The Kepler mission has revealed that Earth-sized planets are common, and dozens have been discovered to orbit in or near their host star's habitable zone. A major focus in astronomy is to determine which of these exoplanets are likely to have Earth-like properties that are amenable to follow-up with both ground- and future space-based surveys, with an ultimate goal of probing their atmospheres to look for signs of life. Venus-like atmospheres will be of particular interest in these surveys. While Earth and Venus evolved to have similar sizes and densities, it remains unclear what factors led to the dramatic divergence of their atmospheres. Studying analogs to both Earth and Venus can thus shed light on the limits of habitability and the potential for life on known exoplanets. Here, we present the discovery and confirmation of Kepler-1649b, an Earth-sized planet orbiting a nearby M5V star that receives incident flux at a level similar to that of Venus. We present our methods for characterizing the star, using a combination of point-spread function photometry, ground-based spectroscopy, and imaging, to confirm the planetary nature of Kepler-1649b. Planets like Kepler-1649b will be prime candidates for atmospheric and habitability studies in the next generation of space missions.

Additional Information

© 2017 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2016 October 25; revised 2017 February 13; accepted 2017 February 15; published 2017 March 17. J.F.R. acknowledges NASA grants NNX12AD21G and NNX14AB82G issued through the Kepler Participating Scientist Program. The research presented in this paper includes data collected by the Kepler mission. This research has made use of the NASA Exoplanet Archive, which is operated by the California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under the Exoplanet Exploration Program. Data from the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) were used for this research as well. Data reduction was done using Image Reduction and Analysis Facility (IRAF) routines. E.V.Q. was supported by an appointment to a NASA Postdoctoral Program Senior Fellowship at NASA Ames Research Center, administered by Universities Space Research Association under contract with NASA. B.B. acknowledges financial support from the European Commission in the form of a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship (PIOF-GA-2013-629435). Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of MaunaKea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain.

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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023