Howdy, neighbor!

Universe Today celebrates a Goldilocks discovery. The Kepler mission has found a planet just the right size and in just the right place to have life on it:

The newly-confirmed extrasolar planet has been dubbed Kepler-186f. It is the fifth and outermost planet discovered orbiting the red dwarf star Kepler-186, located 490 light-years away. Kepler-186f completes one orbit around its star every 130 days, just within the outer edge of the system’s habitable zone.

“This is the first definitive Earth-sized planet found in the habitable zone around another star,” says lead author Elisa Quintana of the SETI Institute at NASA Ames Research Center. “Finding such planets is a primary goal of the Kepler space telescope. The star is a main-sequence M-dwarf, a very common type. More than 70 percent of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy are M-dwarfs.”

But, being cooler stars, M-dwarfs have long lifespans, offering planets in their habitable zones — like Kepler-186f — potentially plenty of time to develop favorable conditions for life.