SCIENTISTS have found a potentially habitable exoplanet that is similar to Earth and orbits a star similar to our Sun.
The promising discovery was made in a nearby solar system and is said to be the most similar planet-star set-up to our own that's ever been found.
The exoplanet candidate is called KOI-456.04 and is still being considered for official planet status.
An exoplanet is just a planet that is found in a different solar system to our own and KOI-465.04 was found 3,000 light years away.
In space terms this is fairly close.
Scientists are excited about the discovery because the planet candidate is only 1.9 times bigger than Earth.
This means it could have similar atmospheric conditions.
Most other exoplanet discoveries find planets that are much bigger than Earth and are similar in size to Neptune.
René Heller, the lead author of the new study, said: "It's the combination of this less-than-double the size of the Earth planet and its solar type host star that make it so special and familiar."
The fact KOI-465.04 is also a similar distance to its star and that its star is similar to our Sun is promising.
The researchers explained: "Almost all of the Earth-sized planets known to have potentially Earth-like surface temperatures are in orbit around red dwarf stars, which do not emit visible light but infrared radiation instead."
This radiation means life is unlikely to survive on the surface.
However, because the Earth-like planet candidate is orbiting a star like the Sun, it could have the right conditions to host life.
Previous researchers has honed in on this star, called Kepler-160, and found two planets circling it.
The new research has potentially found two more.
Kepler-160 is only 1.1 times the size of the Sun and is thought to have a surface temperature of 5,200 degrees Celsius, only 300 degrees less than our star.
This also suggests that the orbiting KOI-456.04 could have similar atmospheric conditions to Earth, such as a mild greenhouse effect.
According to the Max Planck Institute researchers, if the planet candidate does have a similar atmosphere then its average surface tempertaure is likely about 5 degrees Celsius.
Earth's average temperature is around 15 degrees Celsius (59°F).
To be labelled habitable, a planet must orbit its star at a distance which would support a temperature that can maintain liquid water.
If other telescopes can confirm KOI-465.04's existence then it will join 4,000 other known planets outside the Milky Way.
The new discovery was made when researchers reexamined data from the Kepler Space Telescope, which Nasa retired in 2018.
This research has been published in the in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
What is an exo-planet?
Here's what you need to know…
- An exoplanet is a planet that is located outside of our Solar System and one that is orbitting its own star, like how Earth orbits the Sun
- They are very hard to see with telescopes because they are often hidden by the brightness of their star
- Nasa sent the Kepler space telescope into orbit with the purpose of finding Earth sized exoplanets that might support life
- Over 4,000 exoplanets have been discovered so far and more missions to find even more exoplanets are planned
- A good way to spot an exoplanet is to look for "wobbly" stars because a disruption to star light can indicate that a planet is orbitting it and therefore blocking out light on occasion
- Expoplanets are very common in the Universe and the more we find that look like Earth the closer we get to knowing if we're not alone out there
In other news, scientists think they've mad a step forward in working out what's causing Saturn's hexagonal-shaped storm.
Elon Musk has said a Starship to put Americans on Mars is now a ‘top priority’.
And, Nasa has revealed the design of a moon lander that could be taking astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2024.
Do you think humans with live on another planet one day? Let us know in the comments…
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