An artist's rendition of a newly discovered Earth-sized planet, vividly glowing as it orbits a luminous long-lived star, set against a backdrop of a starry universe and distant galaxies, illustrating

Earth-Sized Planet Discovered Orbiting Star Destined to Exist for 100 Billion Years – IFLScience

Introduction to the Discovery

In a groundbreaking advancement in astrophysics, scientists have discovered an Earth-sized planet orbiting a star that is predicted to remain stable for an astonishing 100 billion years. This discovery raises compelling possibilities about the longevity of systems capable of supporting life and the future study of planets far beyond our own solar system.

The Star and Its Lifespan

The star at the center of this discovery is a red dwarf, known for their longevity compared to more massive stars. Red dwarfs burn their fuel slowly and can shine for tens to hundreds of billions of years, far outlasting stars like our Sun, which has a total lifespan of about 10 billion years. The particular star in this discovery, catalogued as Keplar-442, has been estimated to have a lifespan exceeding 100 billion years due to its slow burning and stable nature.

Characteristics of Red Dwarfs

Red dwarfs are the most common type of star in the Milky Way, making up about 75% of the stars in our galaxy. They are much smaller and cooler than the Sun, and they emit a faint red light. Despite their ubiquity, red dwarfs are hard to study from Earth due to their dimness. However, their long lifespans and the frequent occurrence of planets within their habitable zones make them intriguing targets for the search for extraterrestrial life.

Details of the Earth-Sized Planet

The newly discovered planet, named Keplar-442b, orbits its star at a distance that places it squarely within the star’s habitable zone, where temperatures are just right for liquid water to potentially exist on the planet’s surface. Keplar-442b is remarkably Earth-like, with estimates suggesting that it has a rocky composition and sufficient atmospheric conditions to potentially support life.

Importance of the Habitable Zone

The habitable zone, often referred to as the Goldilocks zone, is the region around a star where it is not too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist. This zone varies around different types of stars. For red dwarfs, the habitable zone is much closer to the star than it is around a star like the Sun, due to the red dwarf’s lower temperatures and reduced luminosity.

Implications for Astrobiology

The discovery of Keplar-442b has profound implications for the field of astrobiology, the study of life in the universe. A key aspect of this discovery is its potential to host life over an extended period, given its stable environmental conditions and the long lifespan of its host star. This stability increases the odds of both the emergence and the long-term sustainability of life.

Future Scientific Endeavors

Scientists are eager to conduct further studies on Keplar-442b using next-generation telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). These telescopes will enable detailed observation of the planet’s atmosphere and possibly provide insights into the presence of biomarkers, indicators such as oxygen and methane that could suggest the presence of life.


This remarkable discovery not only poses exciting questions about the potential for life in our universe but also cements the importance of red dwarfs in the search for habitable planets. As technology and methods for observing distant planets improve, further discoveries like Keplar-442b are likely to increase our understanding of the cosmos and our place within it.


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