The first validated Earth-sized planet to orbit a star in the habitable zone, Kepler-186f, has been discovered. It beats out the current most potential candidate for a world with Earth-like life which went to Kepler-62f–a planet forty percent larger than Earth, yet still residing in its own habitable zone.
This recent discovery marks a significant step closer in finding a world similar to Earth. Kepler-186f resides in the Goldilocks zone of the star it orbits. This means that it’s not to far away to be too cold and it’s not too close to be too hot. If the planet fell outside or inside of this habitable zone then water would either freeze or boil away. Of course, water is an essential element to life here on Earth and it’s the main thing scientists hope to find when searching for new worlds.
That all sounds great, but Kepler-186f is about 500 light-years away from Earth, residing in the constellation of Cygnus. This makes it a tad problematic to study and any communication with it, near impossible.
Unlike our sun, the star that Kepler-186f orbits around is only half the size. It pumps out only one-third of the energy, so if you were to stand on Kepler-186f it would only be as bright at high-noon there as it is here on Earth at about an hour before sunset.
Kepler-186f’s solar system is also composed of four inner-planets–that we know of.
The artistic rendering of Kepler-186f in the above photo is a result of scientists and artists collaborating to imagine the appearance of these distant worlds.