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Astronomers discover Earth-like planet

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Nicky Phillips

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Kepler-186f: A NASA artist's concept of the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone.

Kepler-186f: A NASA artist's concept of the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. Photo: Reuters

For decades, astronomers have scanned the sky looking for planets like our own, rocky worlds that orbit a star at just the right distance to harbour liquid water, and possibly, life. 

Scientists on Friday announced the discovery of a planet outside our solar system that is, so far, the closest contender for Earth 2.0.

The exoplanet, named Kepler-186f, is roughly the same size as Earth and orbits its star in the habitable zone – the region around a star within which a planet can sustain liquid water on its surface.

The planet was observed using NASA's planet-hunting space telescope Kepler, which has discovered 961 planets orbiting other stars since it began operating in May 2009.