o The Frog Blog: "Goldilocks" Planet Discovered

Thursday, 30 September 2010

"Goldilocks" Planet Discovered


Astronomers in the US have, for the first time, detected the presence of an Earth-like rocky exoplanet in what is known as the "habitable" or "Goldilocks" zone (i.e. not too hot, not too cold but just right). The new planet, imaginatively called Gliese 581G, reportedly has the most basic and necessary conditions required for supporting life - principally it could have liquid water on its surface, be the right distance from its Sun and be large enough to have a gravitational pull which holds its atmosphere.Interestingly, one side of the planet is always facing its star in constant daylight, while the other is in constant darkness. The most habitable zone would be the region near the line between shadow and light.

Gliese 581G is just a mere 20 light years from Earth (20 trillion miles), is three times the size of Earth and orbits a star in the constellation Libra once every 37 days. The research has taken over 11 years to bring together but the scientists don't claim that the planet has life, they merely suggest that “this is the first exoplanet that has the right conditions for water to exist on its surface.” The scientists are currently unable to carry out analysis of the planets atmosphere to ascertain if it would be able to support life. Who knows, maybe in the future Gliese 581G might be a holiday destination choice for Earthlings?

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