New Planet Discovered
Another Earth Discovered by Scientists?

New Planet Discovered
Another Earth Discovered by Scientists?

Astronomers have discovered a planet, orbiting a star some 20 light years away, which they claim is the most Earth-like yet found and very much likely to be habitable.

A team, led by the University of California, spotted the planet, Gliese 581g, which appears to have an atmosphere, a gravity like Earth and could well be capable of life — and may contain water as well.

The planet is roughly three times the size of Earth and about 20 light years away. In universal terms, that's the same neighborhood. The discovery is making scientists think habitable planets might not be as rare as they once thought.

Gliese 581g lies some 20 light-years away in its star's "Goldilocks zone" - a region surface temperatures would allow the presence of liquid water. Scientists say that the newly found world could also potentially have an atmosphere.

Scientists have jumped the gun before on proclaiming that planets outside our solar system were habitable only to have them turn out to be not quite so conducive to life. But this one is so clearly in the right zone that five outside astronomers told The Associated Press it seems to be the real thing.

"This is the first one I'm truly excited about," said Penn State University's Jim Kasting. He said this planet is a "pretty prime candidate" for harboring life. Life on other planets doesn't mean E.T. Even a simple single-cell bacteria or the equivalent of shower mold would shake perceptions about the uniqueness of life on Earth.

It was discovered using the Keck telescope in Hawaii which has been observing the star Gliese 581 for 11 years. "Keck's long-term observations of the wobble of nearby stars enabled the detection of this multi-planetary system," said Mario R. Perez, Keck program scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington.

Astronomers are excited this new planet was discovered so fast and relatively close by. "I'm surprised we found one so fast," Cunningham said.

"The implication is either we were very lucky or these planets could be relatively common." Gliese 581g is in the constellation of Libra. While Earth takes 365 days to orbit our star, the sun, Gliese 581g orbits its star in 37 days.

Astronomers have announced they have discovered an earth like planet that could support the crucial conditions needed for life to exist. The new planet sits directly in the middle of what is referred to as the habitable or Goldilocks zone (Gliese 581 g), unlike any of the nearly 500 other planets astronomers have found outside Earth's solar system.

It also is in Earth's galactic neighbourhood, suggesting that plenty of Earth-like planets circle other stars. Astronomers say the planet is neither too far from its star, not too close and could contain liquid water.


New Planet Discovered Sept 30th, 2010

In astronomy, the habitable zone (HZ) is the region in a star-centered orbit where an Earth-like planet can maintain liquid water on its surface and Earth-like life.

The habitable zone is the intersection of two regions that must both be favorable to life; one within a planetary system, and the other within a galaxy.

Planets and moons in these regions are the likeliest candidates to be habitable and thus capable of bearing extraterrestrial life  similar to our own. The concept generally does not include moons, because there is insufficient evidence and theory to speculate what moons might be habitable on account of their proximity to a planet.

The habitable zone is not to be confused with the planetary habitability. While planetary habitability deals solely with the planetary conditions required to maintain carbon-based life, the habitable zone deals with the stellar conditions required to maintain carbon-based life, and these two factors are not meant to be interchanged.

It stands to reason that life is most likely to form within the circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ) within a solar system, and the galactic habitable zone (GHZ) of the larger galaxy (though research on the latter point remains in its infancy). The HZ may also be referred to as the "life zone", "Comfort Zone", "Green Belt" or "Goldilocks Zone" (because it's neither too hot nor too cold, but "just right").