Kepler Finds Most Earth-Like Planet Yet

Introducing Kepler 62f, about 1.2K light years away

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 18, 2013 4:11 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Kepler telescope is certainly earning its keep. It has found even more Earth-like planets, NASA announced today, and one is being described as the most Earth-like yet. The news of Kepler-62f comes as part of the discovery of three exoplanets that could possibly support life, explains Space.com. Kepler-62f is just 40% bigger than our own planet, and orbits a star that's only 20% as bright as our sun; the neighboring Kepler-62e circles the same star, which is 1,200 light years away. And as the AP explains, they're just the right size (past ones have been too big, and are likely gas balls like Neptune) and in just the right place (ie, the habitable zone, where it's not too hot or cold) near their star. "This is the first one where I'm thinking 'Huh, Kepler-62f really might have life on it'," says a co-author of the study on the two, published today.

Space.com explains that a separate modeling study indicates the planets might be completely covered in oceans. As for temperature, chief Kepler scientist William Borucki says Kepler-62e is a bit warm, like a Hawaiian world, and Kepler-62f is a bit chilly, more Alaskan. The third exoplanet spotted is Kepler-69c; it's 70% bigger than Earth but revolves around a star much like our own; it's being described as the smallest world located in the habitable zone of a star akin to our sun. These are just the most promising of Kepler's latest lot; an additional four planets were found in the two new solar systems identified, but none of them could support life.

An artist's rendering Kepler 62f.   (NASA)
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