There's a planet 1,2000 light-years away that reminds us of home.
Known as Kepler-62f, the exoplanet (or "extra-solar planet" meaning a planet located outside of our solar system) was discovered by astronomers at New Zealand's University of Canterbury (UC). The astronomers used a gravitational microlensing technique to spot the planet. The scientists described the discovery as "one in a million."
"The new planet is among only a handful of extra-solar planets that have been detected with both sizes and orbits close to that of Earth," said UC in a release on Monday.
The exoplanet's year lasts about 617 days and it travels around a much less massive star than the sun. It's located near the Milky Way's central bulge of stars. For scale, Earth is about 25,000 light-years away from the galactic center. It was only able to be discovered by measuring light bending effects. "The combined gravity of the planet and its host star caused the light from a more distant background star to be magnified in a particular way. We used telescopes distributed around the world to measure the light-bending effect," said UC astronomer Antonio Herrera Martin.
Because of this, we can only rely on artist images to get a sense of what the planets looked like, but potential life-sustaining planets continue to fascinate scientists and astronomer the world over.