We may not have found life on other planets yet, but it turns out we might find another planet like Earth. There seems to be a “recipe” to create an Earth, suggests a study by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Astronomers were able to see exoplanets, those planets orbiting a star other than the sun, using a new tool, the HARPS-North instrument on the 3.6-meter Telescopio Nazionale Galileo, in Spain's Canary Islands.
The instrument is specifically designed to find Earth-sized planets and with accurate measurements can determine their densities, which is important in sorting through planets that may or may not be like our own. So far the researchers have found 10 exoplanets they are studying, all of which have diameters less than 2.7 times Earth’s. The five with diameters 1.6 times smaller than Earth were the more favorable of the findings, as they were the most similar to Earth. They are focusing on one planet in particular, Kepler-93b, which is 1.5 times the size of Earth with a rocky composition, though not much more is known.
This wouldn’t be the first time scientists found a planet like Earth. In April 2007, an Earth-like planet was discovered with the possibility of having water. It was the first finding of its kind. Seven years later, in April 2014, scientists discovered an Earth-sized planet, named Kepler-186f, that might have water on it as well. It’s 500 light-years away from Earth.
The search for potentially habitable worlds is still on, with 22 current possibilities. Those that are Earth-like have a better chance of being habitable. In a Slate article that breaks down what makes a planet resemble Earth, qualities include being small and rocky and a moderate temperature – neither too hot nor too cold, which is based on the planet’s distance from its star.