A few days ago astronomers were witnessing a very special event, that of Saturn “giving birth” to a possible new moon. They even nicknamed it Peggy. On Thursday another great astronomical event took place: astronomers have discovered what they believe to be the most similar to Earth planet yet detected. The new planet is similar in size with our planet and it is located in the Goldilocks zone, a zone with normal temperatures which make life possible.
The Earth-like planet discovered by NASA has excited many planet hunters who have been studying the Milky Way galaxy for years in order to find potentially habitable zones outside the Earth’s solar system.
The new planet was discovered by the Kepler orbiting telescope which can indicate if an orbiting planet crosses in front of a star. Using this, scientists can calculate the size of a planet and can tell specific data about it.
The new Earth-like planet discovered by NASA was named Kepple-186f and it circles around a red dwarf star at a distance of 500 light-years (a light year is about 6 trillion miles) from our planet, located in the Cygnus constellation.
Scientists say that the recently discovered planet is about 10% bigger that our planet and may have liquid water on its surface. The scientists also said that the planet is located at the outer edge of the habitable temperature zone – this is where oceans, rivers and lakes can exist without boiling away or freeze, so life could be possible.
Earth-Like Planet Discovered By NASA – could be cooler than Earth
Lead researcher Elisa Quintana further explains saying that the discovery “is special because we already know that a planet of this size and in the habitable zone is capable of supporting life as we know it.” Researchers say that the planet’s orange-red glow is given by the star it circles and that it could have a cooler temperature than Earth, slightly above freezing. It is not known yet whether the new planet has an atmosphere, but if so, it could contain a large amount of carbon dioxide, which doesn’t make it breathing-friendly.
Another astronomer said that if the Earth-like planet discovered by NASA is habitable, there is also a possibility for photosynthesis which can be prosperous for plants.
The Kepler telescope has been launched in 2009 and since then has confirmed 961 planets, with only a few located in the habitable zone.