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Beyond Earthly Skies

Habitability of Kepler-186f

21 Apr 2014, 09:30 UTC
Habitability of Kepler-186f
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The Kepler-186 system consists of 5 known planets circling a red dwarf star. The 5 planets have sizes ranging from 1.0 - 1.5 Earth-radius and orbital periods of 3.9 - 130 days. All 5 planets are probably rocky, since planets with large hydrogen-helium gas envelops tend to be larger than 1.5 - 2.0 Earth-radius. Of particular interest is Kepler-186f, the fifth planet in the system. Kepler-186f is the first confirmed Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone around another star. Its detection was reported by Quintana et al. (2014) in a paper published in the April 18 issue of the journal Science. Another paper by Bolmont et al. (2014) evaluates the habitability of the Kepler-186 system and, in particular, the habitability of Kepler-186f. Additionally, the paper also investigates the formation and tidal evolution of the Kepler-186 planetary system.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a habitable planet.Figure 2: Orbital configuration of the Kepler-186 planetary system. The shaded regions denote the habitable zone. The bottom part of the plot shows a comparison between 4 different planetary systems that contain planets in the habitable zone: the Solar System, Kepler-62, Kepler-186 and GJ 581. Source: Bolmont et al. (2014).Being situated in the habitable zone does not ...

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