Major Discovery: New Planet Could Harbor Water and Life

Science

Following up on the news from a couple of weeks ago, now we have an terrestrial sized planet found orbiting in the life zone:

“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.

’The goal is to find life on a planet like the Earth around a star like the Sun. This is a step in that direction,’ said study leader Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland. ‘Each time you go one step forward you are very happy.’

The new planet is about 50 percent bigger than Earth and about five times more massive. The new ‘super-Earth’ is called Gliese 581 C, after its star, Gliese 581, a diminutive red dwarf star located 20.5 light-years away that is about one-third as massive as the Sun.”

Again – the really cool thing about this is that it helps us get a better handle on some of the terms in the Drake Equation.

Oh yeah – if you haven’t seen it already, Caelius wrote up an extraordinary piece on what the theological implications might be of finding life on other planets…

Read the rest here: SPACE.com — Major Discovery: New Planet Could Harbor Water and Life

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1 Comment

  1. I saw this in the morning paper. But a 13.5 day year? Wow. What I find fascinating is that if life does exist there, even similar to ours it would be incredibly different because of that difference alone. Not to mention the spectrum of the sunlight there, etc.

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