NASA discovers first earth-sized planet in habitable zone

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April 18, 2014

Using the planet-hunting NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, researchers identified the planet as Kepler-186f, which is 1.11 times the radius of the earth

April 18, 2014

Using the planet-hunting NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, researchers identified the planet as Kepler-186f, which is 1.11 times the radius of the earth

Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone, a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet's surface, is seen in a NASA artist’s concept released on Thursday, is the closest scientists have come so far to finding a true Earth twin

New York: In search for life on other planets, NASA astronomers have detected an earth-like planet orbiting the habitable zone of a cool star.

Using the planet-hunting NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, researchers identified the planet as Kepler-186f that is 1.11 times the radius of the earth.

“The discovery of Kepler-186f is a significant step toward finding worlds like our planet earth,” said Paul Hertz, NASA's astrophysics division director at the agency's headquarters in Washington, DC.

Kepler-186f is part of a multi-planet system around the star Kepler-186 which has five planets, one of which is in the center of the habitable zone.

“We know of just one planet where life exists – earth. Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to earth in size is a major step forward,” added lead author Elisa Quintana, a research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

The host star, Kepler 186, is an M1-type dwarf star which means it would burn hydrogen forever, so there is ample opportunity to develop life around this particular star. The planet is 500 light years away from earth.

“The intensity and spectrum of radiation from Kepler-186f indicate that the planet could have an earth-like atmosphere and water at its surface which is likely to be in liquid form,” revealed co-author Justin R. Crepp, a professor of physics from University of Notre Dame in Australia.

The next steps in the search for distant life include looking for true earth-twins and measuring their chemical compositions, said the study published in the journal Science.


Courtesy: IANS