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A New Habitable Planet?

NASA brings news of an amazing new discovery: a new extrasolar planet that could possibly harbor water and life:

An Earth-like planet spotted outside our solar system is the first found that could support liquid water and harbor life, scientists announced today.

Liquid water is a key ingredient for life as we know it. The newfound planet is located at the “Goldilocks” distance—not too close and not too far from its star to keep water on its surface from freezing or vaporizing away.

And while astronomers are not yet able to look for signs of biology on the planet, the discovery is a milestone in planet detection and the search for extraterrestrial life, one with the potential to profoundly change our outlook on the universe.

Gliese 581 C is the smallest extrasolar planet, or “exoplanet,” discovered to date. It is located about 15 times closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun; one year on the planet is equal to 13 Earth days. Because red dwarfs, also known as M dwarfs, are about 50 times dimmer than the Sun and much cooler, their planets can orbit much closer to them while still remaining within their habitable zones, the spherical region around a star within which a planet’s temperature can sustain liquid water on its surface.

This almost makes up for that whole Pluto thing

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

3 Comments on A New Habitable Planet?

  1. Yes it does….almost. 8o|

  2. We’ve been finding planets for awhile now, and now this. I think we can start defining hard numbers for the Drake Equation.

    And I’m thinking about what the view is from the surface. Awesome.

  3. When can we start shipping the winners and future candidates of the Darwin awards there? The collective I.Q. of planet Earth has dropped significantly in recent years. This might be the boost that we need!

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