Kepler-22b is about twice the size of Earth and has a surface temperature of around 22C; a warm spring day. Scientists say it is the first so-called “super-Earth” known to lie within a “habitable” zone of a Sun-like star.
They believe Kepler-22b, which may have its own oceans, may not only be habitable, but is possibly already inhabited. “This discovery supports the growing belief that we live in a universe crowded with life,” said Dr Alan Boss, of the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC, who helped identify the planet from Kepler space telescope data.
Dr Douglas Hudgins, Kepler programme scientist at Nasa headquarters in Washington, said: “This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin.”