New Exoplanet Could Be Earth’s Cousin — Or Something Totally Alien
This could be potentaily the first world we have found besides Earth that actually has Life on it. Than again, we can’t be sure yet, so don’t get your hopes up. Adam Mann reports,
An artist conception of what the system around Kepler-186f could look like. Image: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech
Astronomers are one step closer to discovering Earth Two. They have found an exoplanet slightly larger than our own, orbiting a star at a distance where it could have liquid water on its surface.
But before you hop on a spaceship looking for a change of scenery, keep in mind that scientists have fairly little information about this new exoplanet, including its mass and composition. From what they can tell, the place is similar to our own world, though not quite Earth’s twin.
“We consider it more of an Earth cousin,” said astronomer Elisa Quintana of NASA’s Ames Research Center, lead author of a paper about the finding appearing today in Science. “It’s got the same size and characteristics, but a very different parent star.”
The exoplanet, named Kepler-186f, is located nearly 500 light-years away, orbiting a red M dwarf star. The star is about half the size of our own yellow G-type sun, and is much cooler and dimmer. Kepler-186f is roughly 10 percent larger than Earth and travels around its parent star in 130 days. Four other planets, each slightly larger than the Earth, also orbit the star, all with periods less than 23 days.