NASA has discovered another Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star within the habitable zone using the Kepler Space Telescope. Labeled as Kepler-186f, it is about 500 light-years away from us in the Cygnus constellation.
“The habitable zone” has also been referred to as the Goldilocks zone. This zone is the region around a star, within which planets with proper atmospheric pressure are capable of supporting liquid water on their surfaces. It is estimated that there are at least 40 billion Earth-sized planets within the Milky Way, but this planet they’ve just discovered is the first Earth-sized planet to be discovered in the Goldilocks zone of another nearby star.
Besides Kepler-186f, there is also 4 other planets that orbit the same star. This means that if the nearby star is similar to our Sun, the potential for life on Kepler-186f exponentially increases.
“We know of just one planet where life exists – Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth,” said Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the paper published in the journal Science. “Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward.”
The nearby star is half the size and mass as our sun and Kepler-186f only receives 1/3 of the energy we get from our sun. Kepler-186f orbits its star once every 130 days.
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Featured image: Artist rendition of what Kepler 186f may look like.
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