This diagram shows the position of Kepler-186f with its host star in relation to Earth.
(Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech)
Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold, maybe just right.
Since humans took their first peek into the vast universe that lies right outside our planet, we’ve asked the question, “is there anyone else out there?” Well recently an inspirational discovery has emerged that might just bring us one step closer to finding other components of life in the universe!
For the very first time in history researchers have found an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of its host star! They have deemed this exoplanet “Earths cousin” because of its proximity from its sun, and the fact that it might have liquid water and the perfect conditions for life to thrive!
This new found planet is called Kepler-186f, named after the telescope that spotted it first. Planet 186f circles a dim red dwarf at about 490-light years away from earth; on the cosmic level this is relatively close to us.
The host star for Kepler-186f is dimmer than our own sun, and the planet is ever so slightly larger. Cosmologists suggest however that its positioning coupled with its size could mean that the planet possesses water on its surface.
Scientists have been searching for an earth twin, which they define as an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of its host star. (Kepler-186f) captures this criterion, except that its “sun” is a much dimmer version of our own. “So, while it is not exactly an “Earth-twin” it is perhaps an Earth cousin. It has very similar characteristics, but with a different parent,” Says Thomas Barclay, Kepler scientist and co-author of the new exoplanet research.
Scientists think that Kepler-186f orbits its host star at a distance of 32.5 million miles, which is theoretically within the red dwarfs’ habitable zone. Our own planet orbits the sun at a distance of about 93 million miles. Keep in mind however that our sun is significantly larger and brighter than that of the red dwarfs. This means that our sun’s habitable zone begins farther out from the star in comparison to the red dwarfs.
Though there have been other planets discovered that lie in habitable zones, Kepler-186f is the very first planet that is so strikingly similar to earth.
This is truly a historic discovery of the first earth size planet orbiting in such a favorable position for supporting life. Scientists are saying this is the best case for a habitable planet ever discovered in the history of exploration.
It is truly amazing that we are living in an era when finding potentially habitable planets is common. Maybe in the near future we’ll know for fact that the universe isn’t as barren and lonely as we think.
To read more about this astounding discovering and the facts that support it please visit: