Is there Alien Life on Kepler-62F? According to researchers, the rocky planet has giant oceans and is most likely habitable.
New Kepler planet could sustain life –”Warm atmosphere and surface liquid water”
A team of researchers from the University of California (USA) found that the distant planet Kepler-62f, located 1,200 light years from Earth in the constellation Lyra, may contain oceans of water and may even be habitable, according to their study published in the journal Astrobiology. It is believed to be around 40 more massive than planet Earth.
In 2013, NASA’s Kepler mission discovered the planetary system that includes Kepler-62f, which is the outermost of the five planets orbiting a smaller and cooler Sun-like star. However, the mission did not provide information on the composition of the atmosphere of Kepler-62f or shape of its orbit.
Now, scientists at the University of California have determined a number of different scenarios about the atmosphere of the planet and its orbit in order to conclude whether or not it may contain life. Surprisingly, investigations found that there are several possible atmospheric conditions that could allow water on its surface.
“We found there are multiple atmospheric compositions that allow it to be warm enough to have liquid surface water,” said Shields, a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Program Fellow. “This makes it a strong candidate for a habitable planet.” (Source)
Researchers approached the study comparing the planet with Earth. For example on our planet, carbon dioxide makes up 0.04 percent of our atmosphere. Since Kepler-62f is located farther away from its star than Earth from our sun, researchers concluded that there needs to be much more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in order for the planet to be warm enough which would allow liquid water on its surface to exist without freezing.
The team of researchers ran several computer simulations based on Kepler-62f containing:
- An atmosphere that ranges in thickness from the same as Earth’s all the way up to 12 times thicker than our planet’s.
- Various concentrations of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere, ranging from the same amount as is in the Earth’s atmosphere up to 2,500 times that level.
- Several different possible configurations for its orbital path. (Source)
Surprisingly, many scenarios indicate that the planet may be habitable, assuming different amounts of carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere.
But in addition to the above, researchers have also concluded that for the planet to be habitable through its entire year, it would need to have an atmosphere three to five times thicker than that of our planet and composed entirely of Carbon Dioxide. In numbers, Kepler-62f needs to have 2,500 times more carbon dioxide in its atmosphere than Earth.
“But if it doesn’t have a mechanism to generate lots of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere to keep temperatures warm, and all it had was an Earth-like amount of carbon dioxide, certain orbital configurations could allow Kepler-62f’s surface temperatures to get temporarily above freezing during a portion of its year,” she said. “And this might help melt ice sheets formed at other times in the planet’s orbit.” (Source)
However, Kepler-62f isn’t the only candidate who has researchers excited. In fact, over 2,300 exoplanets have been confirmed in addition to a couple of thousand other celestial bodies considered as planet candidates. Only some of them are located within ‘habitable zones’ of their planet, meaning that they are just at the right distance from their host star, for liquid water to exist on their surface.
Featured image credit: Artist’s conception by NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle