Have we finally found another planet like our own - an Earth 2.0 ? Image Credit: NASA
Astronomers using the Kepler Telescope have found the most Earth-like extrasolar planet ever discovered.
Kepler-452b is thought to be a rocky terrestrial world with an orbit very similar to our own around a star that is also very similar to our own. Out of more than 1,000 extrasolar planets identified to date this particular world is being hailed as the most significant and Earth-like of them all.
"Kepler-452 has similar characteristics to our sun, which makes finding a planet with an orbital period similar to Earth in this system very exciting," said Daniel Huber of the University of Sydney.
"It is the first time we have found such a planet."
The discovery was outlined at a NASA press conference earlier today with scientists indicating that standing on its surface could potentially feel "a lot like home".
That is not to say that Kepler-452b is exactly like the Earth however - it is approximately 60 percent larger than our own planet and one year there would be 385 days long.
It is also a very long way away at a distance of 1400 light years in the constellation Cygnus.
Nonetheless its remarkably Earth-like orbital distance places it right in its star's habitable zone and scientists believe that it has been there for six billion years - enough time for life to have developed.
It is currently unknown whether or not the planet has an atmosphere or if there really is life there but it is likely to be a prime target for future observation once telescopes become powerful enough.