Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Earth-like exoplanet discovered...

A story that undoubtedly requires much corroboration but caught my fancy as an amateur astronomer. No time to wave to ET's yet though:

New 'super-Earth' found in space (images and video link included)

The new planet is not much bigger than the Earth

Astronomers have found the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, a world which could have water running on its surface.
The planet orbits the faint star Gliese 581, which is 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra.

Scientists made the discovery using the Eso 3.6m Telescope in Chile.

They say the benign temperatures on the planet mean any water there could exist in liquid form, and this raises the chances it could also harbour life.

"We have estimated that the mean temperature of this 'super-Earth' lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid," explained Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory, lead author of the scientific paper reporting the result.

"Moreover, its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth's radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky - like our Earth - or covered with oceans."
Full story

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