“This is the best case for a habitable planet yet found,” says a Berkeley astronomer not involved with the discovery. “The results are absolutely rock solid.” The planet is about 490 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, and it circles a red dwarf star, reportsAP. One known difference: Its year is only about 130 days.
“One of the things we’ve been looking for is maybe an Earth twin, which is an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a sunlike star,” Kepler scientist Tom Barclay tellsSpace.com. This one largely fits the bill. “So, while it’s not an Earth twin, it is perhaps an Earth cousin.” A SETI Institute researcher tells the Atlantic that the idea of finding alien life is “no longer in the realm of science fiction.” That’s because even if Kepler-186f proves to be a bust in the life-supporting department, its discovery suggests that lots more similar planets are out there waiting to be found, reports the LA Times. It quotes another SETI researcher calling this a “tip-of-the-iceberg discovery.”
Now one can only hope that someone will come up with a new name for Kepler-186f. How about “Haven” because the inhabitants of Earth are going to need one after human generated greenhouse gases finally warm the planet to the point where life can no longer survive.