X

Astronomers Find Earth's 'Cousin'

Kepler-186f is called the best bet yet to hold alien life
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2014 5:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – Other "Earth-like" planets have been discovered before, but a new one is generating a lot of excitement in astronomy circles because of how very Earth-like it actually is. Introducing Kepler-186f, which is maybe 10% bigger than our planet and thought to be in the not-too-hot and not-too-cold range that would make water—and life—possible. "This is the best case for a habitable planet yet found," says a Berkeley astronomer not involved with the discovery. "The results are absolutely rock solid." The planet is about 490 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, and it circles a red dwarf star, reports AP. One known difference: Its year is only about 130 days.

story continues below

"One of the things we've been looking for is maybe an Earth twin, which is an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a sunlike star," Kepler scientist Tom Barclay tells Space.com. This one largely fits the bill. "So, while it's not an Earth twin, it is perhaps an Earth cousin." A SETI Institute researcher tells the Atlantic that the idea of finding alien life is "no longer in the realm of science fiction." That's because even if Kepler-186f proves to be a bust in the life-supporting department, its discovery suggests that lots more similar planets are out there waiting to be found, reports the LA Times. It quotes another SETI researcher calling this a "tip-of-the-iceberg discovery." (Read more Kepler telescope stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
X