Kepler-62f could have oceans and be habitable, study finds

There's a planet called Kepler-62f located about 1,200 lightyears from our own planet, and NASA introduced it to the public back in early 2013. At the time, NASA had said the planet is located in a "habitable zone," and now a new study suggests the planet could itself be habitable. A group of researchers studied the planet and came to several conclusions about it, including that it likely has liquid water — possibly oceans — and could have an atmosphere that is the same as our own planet's.

Aomawa Shields, currently with the University of California, teamed up with several researchers at the University of Washington, her former academic home. Together, they analyzed the planet and found some surprising things about it. The atmosphere, for example, could be the same thickness as Earth's, or it could be up to 12 times thicker.

In addition, the planet could have the same concentration of carbon dioxide as our own planet, or up to 2500 times more. Ultimately, though, various possible scenarios were determined that, if one of them is correct, would mean Kepler-62f is habitable.

The planet's atmosphere would have to be high in carbon dioxide to keep it warm enough to have liquid water due to its distance from its star — as such, it would need 2500 times the levels found on Earth, otherwise it would be too cold and the water would be frozen.

Shields explained:

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 temporarily get above freezing during a portion of its year. And this might help melt ice sheets formed at other times in the planet's orbit.

Image via NASA