Planet of the Day: Kepler 186f

Great news, they found a 1.1 Earth mass planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star. Now, it isn’t the first Earth sized planet, but this one is in the habitable zone. There are other Earth sized planets going around the star too, four of them. They are all closer to the star, and not in the habitable zone. That we have found all those planets around the star is pretty great, though. Here is a great graphic of the planets and a great visual of how the transit method of planet searching works from io9:


Notice how the system is very compact, and how far away the fifth planet, 186f is compared to the other 4. Another fact of note is that the fifth planet orbits around 0.3-0.4 AU away from the star, which is similar to where Mercury is, or around one third the distance of the Earth from the sun. While that is still a huge distance, in terms of distances in our solar system, the planets are really close together.

Don’t assume, though, that it may be anything like the Earth. We don’t know its mass, so we don’t know the density, which means we don’t know what it is made of. We don’t know if it has surface waters or thick atmosphere or life. We don’t know anything except its size and period of the orbit, and size of the orbit. It is just a candidate planet and a neat discover. For more information, just go and read the links.


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