In Search of Earth’s Fate: Webb Telescope Explores Twin of Venus, Hoping to Avoid the Inferno | Space

This image depicts the different evolutionary paths of Earth and Venus after their formation 4.6 billion years ago. Image: O’Rourke JG, Wilson CF, Borrelli, ME et al.

SPACE — Scientists have gathered all the information known about planets like Venus outside our solar system. This exoplanet called Venus 2.0 is being hunted by the James Webb Space Telescope with shots that are more focused on predetermined criteria.

Scientists admit that they are getting closer to the analog planet of the Earth’s twin. Venus in the solar system is called Earth’s twin because it is suspected that before it changed to its terrible state, it is now a planet that is rich in oxygen, has oceans and volcanoes that are the same as Earth. If scientists manage to find a Venus twin out there, it could reveal valuable insights into our Earth’s future, including the risks of a runaway greenhouse climate like that of Venus.

Scientists began a search for more than 300 known terrestrial planets orbiting other stars. They then reduced the list to just the five planets that most likely resemble Venus in radius, mass, density, shape of its orbit, and most significantly distance from its star.

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The Venus 2.0 search scientists’ paper has been published in The Astronomical Journal. They are ranked the most Venus-like planets in terms of the brightness of the stars they orbit. This increases the likelihood that the James Webb Space Telescope will receive more informative signals about the composition of the planet’s atmosphere.

To note, Venus currently floats in a cloud nest of sulfuric acid, has no water, and has a surface temperature of up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt lead. By using the Webb telescope in observing the analogue of Venus or exoVenusesscientists hope to confirm whether our Venus was once different in any way from how it is today.

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“One thing we want to know is whether Venus was habitable in the past,” said the study’s lead author, Colby Ostberg. “To confirm this, we wanted to look at the coolest planets at the outer edge of the Venus zone, where they get less energy from their star.”

The Venus zone is a concept that UCR astrophysicist Stephen Kane proposed in 2014. It is similar to the concept of the habitable zone, which is the region around a star where liquid surface water can exist.

“The Venusian zone is a place too hot to have water, but not enough to flake off the planet’s atmosphere,” explains Ostberg. “We want to find planets that still have a significant atmosphere.”

Finding a planet similar to Venus in terms of planetary mass is also important. This is because mass affects how long a planet can maintain an active interior, with the movement of rocky plates across its outer shell known as plate tectonics.

“Venus is 20 percent less mass than Earth, and as a result, scientists believe there may be no tectonic activity there. Because of this, Venus has a hard time removing carbon from its atmosphere,” Ostberg said.

The role of the James Webb telescope…

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