Notre Dame professor helps discover new planet

By: NewsCenter 16 Staff Email
By: NewsCenter 16 Staff Email

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- It's an age old question, are we alone?

In such a vast universe, Earth is the only planet we know of capable of sustaining life.

But thanks to one Notre Dame professor's discovery, Earth may have a buddy.

Five years ago the Kepler Space Telescope launched in hopes of identifying planets, and to date it's found more than 3800 possible planets; confirming 966 of them.

But the newest planet, Kepler 186-f, could be the greatest discovery of our lifetime.

“I wouldn't even say that's an exaggeration. We have been trying to answer the big question of are there planets orbiting other stars for a long time. The field is young, only the past one or two decades were we able to do it,” said Dr. Crepp

Dr. Crepp helped discover the planet, and while they've found five planets to this point revolving around the same star it's 186-f that has scientists excited.

“What's special about this discovery is that the planet is in the habital zone. It's this anulus around this star where we think it's just the right temperature. Not too hot not too cold. Where you can have water in a liquid form which might be conducive to life,” said Dr. Crepp.

While this planet does lie in the quote "goldilocks zone" don't get too excited about the physical exploration of Kepler 186-f it's 490 light years away.

“We're taking baby steps to really addressing this bigger question of is there life elsewhere in the universe. So detecting planets on which that life can proliferate and flourish is a good step,” said Dr. Crepp.

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