In order for a planet to be habitable or hospitable for life, it needs to meet certain criteria. Just to name a few, they have to be the right distance from a star, they have to be big enough to have a molten center, and the planet needs to have rock.
These exoplanets, which are planets outside of our solar system, may not only support life other than our own, but we could also consider these as oases in the universe in case we are ever forced to leave Earth. As of right now, obviously there is no way we can travel to these planets because they are light years away and to travel just one light year would take us 80,000 years with current technology. But, with changes in space travel and space colonies, we may get there one day.
Housed in the Cygnus constellation, Kepler-283 is a star that is 1,700 light years away from Earth. It is slightly bigger than half the width of our sun and researchers believe that there are two planets that orbit the star. Kepler-283b is closest to the star and it is too hot for water to exist.
However, the outer planet Kepler-283c is in the hospitable zone, known as “Goldilocks conditions,” of the solar system. The planet is about 1.8 the size of earth and a year on the planet would only be 93 Earth days because that is how long it takes for the planet to orbit around the star.
Found in the Lyra constellation, about 470 light years away, is the exoplanet Kepler-438b. It orbits a dwarf red star, which is smaller than our sun, and the planet is about 12 percent larger than Earth and it gets 40% more heat. Due to its size and its distance from the system’s star, the mean temperature of the exoplanet would be about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a bit hot for humans but it is cool enough for other life to exist.
Kepler-438b orbits its star every 35 days, which means that a year on the planet passes 10 times faster than it does on Earth.
Like Kepler-438b, Kepler 442b is in the Lyra constellation, but it is in a different solar system that is further out in the universe, about 1,100 light years away. Scientists are 97 percent sure that Kepler-438b is in the system’s habitable zone and it orbits around the system’s red dwarf star every 112 days.
The planet is about a third larger than Earth and it receives about two-thirds as much sunlight, which indicates that it has a mean temperature of 32F degrees. There is also a 60% chance that the planet is rocky, which is necessary for life to evolve.
7. Gliese 667 Cc
In the Scorpius constellation, about 22 light years away is GJ 667Cc, also known as Gliese 667 Cc. The planet is about 4.5 times larger than the Earth and it takes about 28 days to orbit its star. The star, GJ 667C, is a red dwarf that is about a third the size of our sun and it is part of a three star system.
It is also one of the closest stars to us, only about 100 other stars are closer. In fact, it is so close that people on Earth with telescopes can faintly see the star.
6. HD 40307g
HD 40307 is a dwarf orange star, which is bigger than a red star but smaller than a yellow star, that is 44 light years away from us in the Pictor constellation and there are six planets that orbit it. The star is slightly less powerful than our sun and the planet that is in the star’s habitable zone is the sixth planet, HD 40307 g.
HD 40307 g is about seven times larger than Earth, making it a Super-Earth. A year on the planet would be 197.8 Earth days and it also appears to spin on its own axis, meaning that it has a day-night cycle, which is important when it comes to producing life.
K2-3, also known as EPIC 201367065, is located in the Leo constellation and it is about 150 light years away. This may seem like a long distance, and it is, but it is actually one of the 10 closest stars with transiting planets, so in terms of the universe, K2-3 is just down the road.
Orbiting around K2-3, which is a red dwarf star that is about half the size of our sun, is three planets, K2-3b, K2-3c and K2-3d. K2-3d is the planet farthest from the star and it is in the star’s habitable zone. The exoplanet is 1.5 times the size of Earth, and orbits around its star every 44 days.
4. Kepler-62e and 62f
Over 1,200 light years away in the Lyra constellation are two planets, Kepler-62e and 62f, and they both orbit the same star. Both are candidates for hosting life, with Kepler-62e being closer to the red dwarf star. 62e is about 1.6 the size of earth and it goes around its star every 122 days. 62f is smaller, about 1.4 times the size of Earth and it rotates around the star every 267 days.
Researchers believe that due to the conditions, there is a good chance that there is water on either one or both of the exoplanets. They may also be both completely covered in water, which is good news because that is quite possibly how Earth may have started. According to one study, as recently as a billion years ago, the Earth’s surface could have been 95 percent water.
3. Kapteyn b
Orbiting Kapteyn’s star, which is a red dwarf star, is Kapteyn b. The planet, which is actually considerably close to Earth at only 13 light years away, has a year that lasts 48 days and it is in the habitable zone of the star. But what makes Kapteyn b such a promising candidate for hosting life at some point in its history is that the exoplanet is much older than Earth; it is 11.50 billion years old.
That means it formed just 2.3 billion years after the Big Bang and it is 8 billion years older than the Earth. With more time, it increases the likely hood that life exists now, or did at some time on the planet.
The first exoplanet thought to possibly sustain life was Kepler-186f, which was discovered in 2010. Referred to as “Earth’s cousin” because of their similarities, Kepler-186f is about 490 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is the outermost planet in a five planet system that circles a dim red dwarf star. The star isn’t as bright as our sun, but the planet is 10 percent larger than Earth and it is closer to its star than we are to the sun. Because of its size and its location in the hospitable zone, scientists believe that it is possible that there is water on the surface. They also believe that, like Earth, the exoplanet would be made of iron, rock and ice.
After making the discovery, the researchers looked for emissions that would indicate that there is extraterrestrial life on the planet, but no evidence was found.
1. Kepler 452b
Located about 1,400 light years away in the Cygnus constellation is Earth’s “Older and Bigger Cousin,” Kepler 452b. The planet is about 60 percent larger than Earth, and it is further away from the sun, but it gets about the same amount of energy from the star as we get from the sun. According to geologists, the atmosphere of the planet is probably thicker than that of the Earth and there are probably active volcanoes on the planet.
The gravity on the planet is probably about double what it is on Earth and it takes 385 days to orbit around its star, which is a yellow dwarf star, like our sun. One of the most promising features of the exoplanet is its age, it was formed about 6 billion years ago, making it approximately 1.5 billion years older than the Earth. That means that there has been a long period in which the planet could brew life. At the time of this writing, this Super-Earth, is considered the most likely exoplanet to harbor life. In fact, after its discovery in July 2015, the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute started targeting the area of the planet, but has not received any messages from the planet.