Second Earth News: Scientists Spot Potential Habitable Planet's Shadow From Earth

First Posted: Dec 01, 2016 02:50 AM EST

A potential habitable planet circling a bright star located 150 lightyears away has been detected by scientists from Earth casting a shadow. reported that the Earth-like planet named K2-3d was found passing in front its star through the use of the Kepler's space telescope during NASA's current K2 mission. This was brought to Okayama Astrophysical Observatory's 188-centimeter telescope for further accurate observations on the exoplanet's orbital period.

"Our findings have greatly improved the precision of future predictions of the planet's transit, determining the orbital period of the planet to within about 18 seconds," the researchers stated, according to The Sun.

"This improved precision ensures that when the next generation of large telescopes come online, they will know exactly when to watch for transits."

Every transit draws scientists closer to getting to know more about the potential habitable planet. These new findings will also help researchers predict when these transits shall occur.

The scientists are looking forward to using the upcoming large-scale James Webb Telescope, which will finally give them the idea of the K2-3d's atmosphere when its starlight hits it during an ongoing transit. Astronomers could then find out if the exoplanet indeed has molecules such as oxygen that could prove its habitability.

Compared to Earth, K2-3d is 1.5 times bigger than its size. The exoplanet's distance from its star, which size is almost half of the Sun, is one fifth of the distance between Earth and Sun and it orbits its star every 45 Earth days.

Scientists at National Astronomical Observatory of Japan believe that this exoplanet has an Earth-like temperature because it has the potential to hold liquid water and its star appears to be cooler. They said that the space located near its star can be considered a habitable zone since it has life-supporting characteristics similar to Earth.

These recent findings were published in The Astronomical Journal last week.

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