Researchers yesterday said that for the first time they may have found an extrasolar planet that could be the foundation for life. This is because it falls squarely withint the ‘habitable zone’ of a nearby star.
They are calling this planet ‘Gliese 581g’ – the sixth planet found orbiting the Red Dwarf called Gliese 581, found within the constellation of Libra. This planet was located by teams at the University Of California (UC) Santa Cruz and the Carnegie Institution of Washington – after 10 years of observations using the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
The claims for it being a habitable planet are down to the fact that if this was orbiting in our solar system, its nearly circular orbit would place it just outside the orbit of Venus, well within the “habitable zone” where liquid water could be found.
This planet has a mass approximately three to four times that of Earth and has an orbit of 37 days.
Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, said “Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet, The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common.”
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