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Scientists working on data obtained from the Kepler space telescope have confirmed the existence of an "Earth like" planet outside our solar system. The planet named Kepler 22b is located 600 light-years from Earth and was originally one of 54 potentially habitable exoplanets reported by the Kepler team in February 2011.

Using other telescopes, astronomers have now confirmed Kepler 22b as the first Earth like planet that lies in the "habitable zone" or "goldilocks zone" around its star. It has a temperature of 22C, is about 2.4 times the size of the Earth with a slightly shorter orbit of 290 days.

Artist's impression of Kepler 22b (NASA)

William Borucki, principal Kepler investigator at Nasa Ames Research Centre, said it was a "privilege" to unveil the discovery of this planet. He added, "We have now got good planet confirmation with Kepler 22b. We are certain that it is in the habitable zone and if it has a surface it ought to have a nice temperature."

Illustration showing the habitable zones of the Kepler 22b system and our Solar System (NASA)

It is very likely that many more discoveries and confirmation announcements of similar type planets will be made in the near future, implying that our Milky Way galaxy seems to be teeming with potentially habitable worlds.

Further reading

Astronomers announce discovery of 50 new exoplanets
18 Scorpii - The nearest Solar twin