This artist's concept released April 17, 2014 by NASA/JPL-CALTECH depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. (AFP PHOTO HANDOUT-NASA/JPL-CALTECH/ T. PYLE ")
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The hunt for potential life in outer space has taken a step forward -- an international team of researchers has discovered the first Earth-sized planet within the "habitable zone" of another star.Kepler-186f is the fifth and outermost planet orbiting the Kepler-186 star, right on the far edge of that solar system's habitable zone, meaning the surface temperature might not be warm enough to stop water from freezing.Of nearly 1,800 planets detected over the past 20 years, only around 20 orbit within the so-called "habitable zone" -- and all appear to be larger than Earth, which makes it harder to tell whether or not they are gas giants.The Kepler space telescope, launched in March 2009, observes some 150,000 stars, a few thousand of which have been found to have possible planets.
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