First Earth-Sized 'Possibly Habitable' Planet Found
By Karla Danica Figuerres | April 26, 2014 7:10 PM EST
Kepler-186f is the new planet recently discovered using the NASA's Kepler telescope. This planet was tagged as the first Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting within the livable area of another star that has been established.
It was the first ever confirmed Earth-sized planet circling a distant star in the inhabitable region, a zone of distances from a star where water might be produced on the exterior of an orbiting star. With the discovery of Kepler-186f, it proved that the Earth-sized planets exist in the livable area of other stars indicating an essential move in looking for a planet same as the Earth.
A worldwide group of researchers have reported the discovery of a new planet that has land and could possibly have water on its surface.
This newly discovered planet named Kepler-186-f was found using NASA's Kepler telescope released in March 2009 to look for Earth-sized planets in the Milky Way. The livable planet orbits its star at a distance where any water is likely to be present. Since water is an indispensable factor to life on Earth, many researchers thought the search for outer space life should emphasize on the planets where liquid exists.
"Some people call these habitable planets, which of course we have no idea if they are. We simply know that they are in the habitable zone, and that is the best place to start looking for habitable planets," Stephen Kane, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, said.
Kepler-186f is known to be the fifth and outmost planet orbiting around the dwarf star Kepler-186. These planets were discovered using transit method, in which the prospective planets are spotted as their orbits pass by the front of their star producing a very small periodic darkening of the star's brightness.
Kepler-186f is less than ten percent larger than the Earth in size, but its mass and composition are not known. Kepler-186f orbits its star every 130-days and accepts one-third the heat energy that the Earth does from the sun, placing it near the outer edge of the habitable zone.
After discovering that Kepler-186f is a planet, astronomers calculated its size. It is a bit bigger than the Earth, having 1.1 Earth radii. By knowing the mass and radius of the planet, the researchers also calculated the planet's density and discovered to be rocky.
Even though Kepler-186f displays thrilling signs of being Earth-like, Kane pointed out it has also enthralling variations.
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