Astronomers have been trying to find habitable planets similar to planet Earth. Due to the climate change issue, some scientists are eager to discover an alternative planet to relocate some of the population in the future.
There have been a few discoveries over the years, but astronomers have added another one.
The Discovery of Super-Earth Kepler-62F
The recent discovery was "incredibly rare," according to the University of Canterbury New Zealand astronomers that discovered the Super-Earth, which is a group of planets that reside within the habitable zone of their star systems.
The exoplanet was named Kepler-62F, but what makes it special?
For one, the exoplanet is believed to be a rocky planet just like our own, but it's larger than ours but no bigger than Neptune.
The astronomers' findings are published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Since it is a part of the Super-Earth category, it's within the habitable zone of its system, somewhere between the location of Venus and our planet in our solar system, meaning the temperature would allow liquid water to exist on its surface.
However, Kepler-62F's orbit is much slower than ours.
In Earth days, a year in Kepler-62F would reach around 600 days, which is a little less than two years here.
Smaller Host Star
In addition, the system's host star is smaller than our Sun and only has 10% of its mass, as noted by BGR.
Although the planet is actually in a habitable zone, the climate there might actually be much colder than ours since its star is much smaller compared to the average size of stars.
"Although it's not too much bigger than Earth and orbiting its star at a similar distance, this planet would be very cold because its star is smaller than the sun and emits much less light," said the paper's co-author Michael Abrow.
In context, our Sun is already deemed as a dwarf compared to the multitude of massive stars all over our universe and even within our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Speaking of our galaxy, what's even more interesting with the newly discovered exoplanet is that it's actually closer to our system compared to the other ones that have been previously discovered.
According to USA Today, the exoplanet's solar system is actually located near the center of our galaxy.
Is it Potentially Habitable?
Astronomers have to continue investigating the planet and see whether it is indeed capable of supporting life like on our planet and that we should not keep our hopes up that it would be able to.
So far, there are only a handful of planets that are actually deemed as potentially habitable.
The discovery of Kepler-62F is made possible with a technique known as gravitational microlensing.
"The combined gravity of the planet and its host star caused the light from a more distant background star to be magnified in a particular way. We used telescopes distributed around the world to measure the light-bending effect," explained lead author, Antonio Herrera-Martin.
The microlensing effect is extremely rare, and only a few planets are affected by it, which makes Kepler-62F an incredibly special case.