Newly discovered extra-solar planet may be Earth-like
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
A 2005 search revealed that the star Gliese 581 possessed a Neptune sized planet, prompting astronomers to take a closer look.
Gliese 581 c, as the planet is aptly named, has an estimated surface temperature between 0 and 40°C (32 and 104°F). Scientists claim the planet is likely to have an atmosphere and liquid water.
A second planet, about 8 times the mass of earth, was also discovered not too far from Gliese 581 c.
A team of scientists from France, Switzerland and Portugal discovered the planets using the ESO 3.6-m telescope from the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher or HARPS, located at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in La Silla, Chile.
"The separation between the planet and its star is just right for having liquid water at its surface," said team spokesperson Stephane Udry of the Observatory of Geneva in Versoix, Switzerland. "That's why we are a bit excited."
"Liquid water is critical to life as we know it and because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important [focus] of future space missions dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial life. On the treasure map of the Universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X," added Xavier Delfosse, from Grenoble University in France.
The newly discovered planet is 20.5 light-years away from the Earth.
- "Press Release: Astronomers Find First Earth-like Planet in Habitable Zone" — , April 25, 2007
- "New 'super-Earth' found in space" — , April 25, 2007
- "Astronomers find first habitable Earth-like planet" — , April 24, 2007
- Ian Sample. "'Second Earth' may mean we're not alone" — , April 24, 2007
- J.R. Minkle. "All Wet? Astronomers Claim Discovery of Earth-like Planet" — , April 24, 2007
- ANI. "First habitable Earth like planet outside Solar System discovered" — , April 23, 2007
External Links 
- "Video: The Dwarf Carried Other Worlds Too!" — , April 25, 2007
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