Study gives claims distant exoplanet is more Earth-like than we thought

The Georgia Institute of Technology has published a study that looks at a distant exoplanet that is believed to be Earth-like. This exoplanet is called Kepler-186f and it is the first Earth-sized planet outside the solar system that has been found orbiting in a habitable zone. That means the planet is orbiting where liquid water could be present on the surface.

Georgia Tech used simulations to analyze and identify the spin axis dynamics of the planet to determine how much the planet tilts on its axis and how that angle evolves over time. Axial tilt is important because it contributes to seasons and climate on the surface of the planet due to influencing how sunlight hits the surface of the planet.

The study suggests that the axial tilt of the exoplanet is very stable, very much like Earth. This hints that the planet would have regular seasons and a stable climate. Kepler-186f is 500 light years from Earth. Another, much more distant planet called Kepler-62f is a super-Earth planet and the researchers think that planet also has a stable climate and regular seasons.

Axial tilt is very important to the climate on a planet. The team points out that Mars is in the habitable zone of our solar system, but it has an axial tilt that varies from zero to 60 degrees and is thought to be a key contributor to the decay of the Martian atmosphere and evaporation of surface water.

The axial tilt on Earth is mildly oscillating between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees and moves from one extreme to the other every 10,000 years or so. Kepler-62f was the most Earth-like exoplanet ever found until 186f was discovered in 2014. It's 40% larger than Earth and thought to be an ocean-covered world. It is in the constellation Lyra.

SOURCE: Eurekalert