Notre Dame Physics | Apr. 18, 2014 | Notre Dame College of Science
University of Notre Dame astrophysicist Justin R. Crepp and researchers from NASA working with the Kepler space mission have detected an Earth-like planet orbiting the habitable zone of a cool star. The planet, which was found using the Kepler Space Telescope, has been identified as Kepler-186f and is 1.11 times the radius of the Earth. Their research, titled “An Earth-sized Planet in the Habitable Zone of a Cool Star,” will be published in the journal Science on Thursday (April 17).
Kepler-186f is part of a multiplanet system around the star Kepler 186, which has five planets, one of which is in the center of the habitable zone — the region around a star within which a planet can sustain liquid water on its surface. While there have been other discoveries of Earth-sized and smaller planets, those planets have been found in orbits that are too close to their host stars for water to exist in liquid form. Findings taken from three years of data show that the intensity and spectrum of radiation from Kepler-186f indicate that the planet could have an Earth-like atmosphere and water at its surface that is likely to be in liquid form.