What is the possibility of Life on Kepler-62F?
May 30, 2017
Kepler data suggests that 62f is likely a rocky planet, and could have oceans. So what is the possibility of life on Kepler-62F?
A team of astronomers suggests that an exoplanet named 62f could be habitable. Kepler data suggests that 62f is likely a rocky planet, and could have oceans. The exoplanet is 40% larger than Earth and is 1200 light years away, giving us the possibility of life on Kepler-62F.
62f is part of a planetary system discovered by the Kepler mission in 2013. There are 5 planets in the system, and they orbit a star that is both cooler and smaller than our Sun. The target of this study, 62f, is the outermost of the planets in the system.
Kepler can’t tell us if a planet is habitable or not. It can only tell us something about its potential habitability. The team, led by Aomawa Shields from the UCLS department of physics and astronomy, used different modeling methods to determine if 62f could be habitable, and the answer is, maybe.
According to the study, much of 62f’s potential habitability revolves around the CO2 component of its atmosphere, if it indeed has an atmosphere. As a greenhouse gas, CO2 can have a significant effect on the temperature of a planet, and hence, a significant effect on its habitability.
Earth’s atmosphere is only 0.04% carbon dioxide (and rising.) 62f would likely need to have much more CO2 than that if it were to support life. It would also require other atmospheric characteristics, .
The study modelled parameters for CO2 concentration, atmospheric density, and orbital characteristics. They simulated:
- An atmospheric thickness from the same as Earth’s up to 12 times thicker.
- Carbon dioxide concentrations ranging from the same as Earth’s up to 2500 times Earth’s level.
- Multiple different orbital configurations.
It may look like the study casts its net pretty wide in order to declare a planet potentially habitable. But the simulations were pretty robust, and relied on more than a single, established modelling method to produce these results. With that in mind, the team found that there are multiple scenarios that could determine the possibility of life on Kepler-62F.
“We found there are multiple atmospheric compositions that allow it to be warm enough to have surface liquid water,” said Shields, a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Program Fellow. “This makes it a strong candidate for a habitable planet.”