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Astronomers Discover ‘Super Earth’ Kepler-62f, Is The Planet Habitable?

First Posted: Jun 06, 2016 05:00 AM EDT
Super-Earth
A super-Earth is an extrasolar planet with a mass higher than Earth's, but substantially below the mass of the Solar System's ice giants Uranus and Neptune, which are 15 and 17 Earth masses respectively. Wikimedia Commons/NASA Ames/JPL CC BY 2.0

A super earth is believed to have been discovered which can likely sustain life. According to the astronomers, Kepler-62f is a planet that is 1,200 light years away from the Earth, and in the similar range of the planets, which are possibly not only rocky, but has oceans as well.

The super earth has been found to have several atmospheric compositions that make it warm enough to have surface liquid water, according to study lead author Aomaway Shields, who is also an astronomy and astrophysics postdoctoral fellow of the National Science Foundation at the UCLA. The study was first published in the journal Astrobiology.

The research team worked into multiple computer simulations to find out what the planet may be like, with Kepler-62f having an atmosphere that can range in thickness from the Earth's, up to 12 times thicker. The simulation also tested different carbon dioxide concentration levels of the Earth up to 2,500 times higher, including different configurations of the super earth's orbital path around its own sun, News Max reported.

A habitable Kepler-62f would be possible based on the several scenarios presented by the research team, although this is all hypothetical. As explained by the researchers, the super earth will require an atmosphere three to five times thicker compared to that of the Earth's. The atmosphere will shave in order to be comprised completely of carbon dioxide, which is not a bad idea considering its distance from its own star.   

The team simulated different climates by using current global climate models since it was the first time that combined results different models were used to examine an exoplanet. According to Shields, this will help them understand the potentials of certain planets to be habitable over a broad array of factors that are not available yet, and to produce a list of targets to look more into with the next generation of telescopes in the search for atmospheric fingerprints of life in another world, according to The Daily Star.

For now, super earth Kepler-62f is being studied for clues if life may or does exist in such planet. 

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