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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Bathing in the Sunset of an 'Earth-Like' Alien World

•, by Ian O**Q**Neill
 Often scientists and artists need to use a little artistic license to achieve this feat, but if the visualization is based on real data, the result can be eerily beautiful.
In the above rendering, scientists at the Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL) at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo have rendered a very familiar scene here on Earth but used real data from the recently identified “habitable” exoplanet Kepler-186f.
As described by Abel Mendez Torres, planetary scientist and PHL director, Kepler-186f orbits an M-dwarf, a star that is smaller and cooler than our sun. As a result, the habitable zone — the region surrounding a star where the temperature is “just right” for liquid water to persist on a planetary surface — is much closer to the star than our sun’s habitable zone.

In fact, Kepler-186f receives only 32 percent of the stellar flux (i.e. sunlight) that we receive on Earth. As a comparison, Mars receives 43 percent of the stellar flux that Earth receives. This means Kepler-186f will be dimmer than Mars. As we all know, Mars is a freezing place with little atmosphere, but if Kepler-186f has a thicker atmosphere than Earth, then perhaps it can incubate liquid water on its surface.

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