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One in a million: Scientists detect rare "Super Earth" 1,200 light years from our planet

Scientists at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, detected an exoplanet with characteristics similar to those of the Earth in the center of the galaxy. Kepler-62f is described as a rare Super Earth and is found in the constellation Lyra, about 1,200 light years from our planet.

According to researchers at the New Zealand university, Kepler-62f is part of the set of rare exoplanets that has a similar size and orbit to the Earth. Antonio Herrera Martin, the scientist who led the investigation, explains that the planet has a dimension that is between the size of the Earth and that of Neptune.

The study recently published in the scientific journal The Astronomical Journal explains that Kepler-62f orbits a star with 10% of the total mass of the Sun, being in the habitable zone of the Kepler-62 planetary system. One year on the planet is equivalent to about 617 Earth days.

Diagram of the Kepler 62 planetary system credits: NASA

To be able to detect Kepler-62f, astronomers used a gravitational microlensing technique, but the task was not easy. According to Antonio Herrera Martin, the combination of the planet's gravity with that of the central star of its planetary system caused an amplification of light from an even more distant star. In order to measure distortion, several telescopes were used in different parts of the world.

Scientists indicate that the distortion effect identified is very rare, affecting only one star in a cluster of a corn. The researcher who led the discovery says that it is not possible to repeat the same type of observation that astronomers made and the probability of finding a planet under the same circumstances is extremely low.

Kepler-62f is not an exoplanet totally unknown to the scientific community. In 2013, NASA discovered three new planets in the Kepler-62 and Kepler-69 planetary systems, including what was recently detected by scientists at the University of Canterbury.

In April 2020, a group of researchers from the SETI Institute discovered the most Earth-like exoplanet. Kepler-1649c is found in the constellation Cygnus, at a distance of 302 light years, and a rocky planet, about 6% larger than Earth and orbits a habitable area of ??its star.