Active life on another planet? Researchers believe so

About 1,200 lightyears away from Earth, Kepler-62f may be a good prospect for a habitable world

Washington: A planet, about 1,200 light-years from Earth and in all probabilities has surface liquid water, is a good prospect for a habitable world, reports researchers from University of California, Los Angeles.

Kepler-62f. Pic/NASA
Kepler-62f. Pic/NASA

Named Kepler-62f, the planet is approximately 40 per cent larger than Earth.

"It is within the range of planets that are likely to be rocky and possibly could have oceans,” said Aomawa Shields, lead author and a astrophysics postdoctoral fellow.

NASA's Kepler mission discovered the planetary system that includes Kepler-62f in 2013 and identified it as the outermost of five planets orbiting a star that is smaller and cooler than the Sun.

"We found there are multiple atmospheric compositions that allow it to be warm enough to have surface liquid water. This makes it a strong candidate for a habitable planet," added Shields.

On Earth, carbon dioxide makes up 0.04 per cent of the atmosphere.

Because Kepler-62f is much farther away from its star than Earth is from the Sun, it would need more carbon dioxide to be warm enough to maintain liquid water on its surface, and to keep from freezing.

The team ran computer simulations and found many scenarios that allow it to be habitable, assuming different amounts of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere.

Shields said that for the planet to be consistently habitable throughout its entire year, it would require an atmosphere that is three to five times thicker than Earth’s and composed entirely of carbon dioxide.

The research was published online in the journal Astrobiology.

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