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A look at what is required for a planet to be able to support life

This artist illustration shows what it might be like to stand on the surface of the planet Kepler-186f, the first-ever Earth-size planet to be found in the habitable zone of its star. Danielle Futselaar A look at what is required for a planet to be able to support life newfound planet, called Kepler-186f, was first spotted by NASA's Kepler space telescope and circles a dim red dwarf star about 490 light-years from Earth.

While the host star is dimmer than Earth's sun and the planet is slightly bigger than Earth, the positioning of the alien world coupled with its size suggests that Kepler-186f could have water on its surface, scientists say.

You can learn more about the amazing alien planet find in a video produced by Space. So, while it's not an Earth twin, it is perhaps an Earth cousin. It has similar characteristics, but a different parent. It orbits a star 490 light-years away. See the full details of alien planet Kepler-186f in this Space. By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist Potentially habitable planet Scientists think that Kepler-186f — the outermost of five planets found to be orbiting the star Kepler-186 — orbits at a distance of 32.

Earth orbits the sun from an average distance of about 93 million miles 150 million kmbut the sun is larger and brighter than the Kepler-186 star, meaning that the sun's habitable zone begins farther out from the star by comparison to Kepler-186.

What Are The Requirements For Life To Arise And Survive?

Other planets of various sizes have been found in the habitable zones of their stars. However, Kepler-186f is the first alien planet this close to Earth in size a look at what is required for a planet to be able to support life orbiting in that potentially life-supporting area of an extrasolar system, according to exoplanet scientists.

The results are absolutely rock-solid. The planet itself may not be, but I'd bet my house on it. In any case, it's a gem. Researchers still aren't sure what Kepler-186f's atmosphere is made of, a key element that could help scientists understand if the planet is hospitable to life.

Earth-Size World Could Support Oceans, Maybe Life Infographic ] "What we've learned, just over the past few years, is that there is a definite transition which occurs around about 1. Because of its position in the outer part of the habitable zone, the planet's larger size could actually help keep its water liquid, Kane said in a statement.

Habitable Zone

Since it is slightly bigger than Earth, Kepler-186f could have a thicker atmosphere, which would insulate the planet and potentially keep its water in liquid form, Kane added. It's still well within it, but it receives less energy than Earth receives. So, if you're on this planet [Kepler-186f], the star would appear dimmer.

How much do you know about these exotic worlds? Are You an Exoplanet Expert? Astronomers have confirmed more than 800 planets beyond our own solar system, and the discoveries keep rolling in.

Found! First Earth-Size Planet That Could Support Life

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope — Hubble's successor, expected to launch to space in 2018 — is designed to image planets around relatively nearby stars; however, the Kepler-186 system might be too far off for the powerful telescope to investigate, Barclay said. Scientists using the Kepler telescope discovered Kepler-186f using the transit method: When the planet moved across the face of its star from the telescope's perspective, Kepler recorded a slight dip in the star's brightness, allowing researchers to learn more about the planet itself.

Kepler suffered a major malfunction last year and is no longer working in the same fashion, but scientists are still going through the spacecraft's trove of data searching for new alien worlds. The new research was published online today April 17 in the journal Science. Original article on Space.