Skip to comments.First habitable Earth like planet outside Solar System discovered
Posted on 04/24/2007 1:41:01 PM PDT by Sopater
Munich, April 24: An international team of astronomers from Switzerland, France and Portugal have discovered the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date.
The planet has a radius only 50 percent larger than Earth and is very likely to contain liquid water on its surface.
The research team used the European Southern Observatorys (ESOs) 3.6-m telescope to discover the super-Earth, which has a mass about five times that of the Earth and orbits a red dwarf already known to harbour a Neptune-mass planet.
Astronomers believe there is a strong possibility in the presence of a third planet with a mass about eight times that of the Earth in the system.
However, unlike our Earth, this planet takes only 13 days to complete one orbit round its star. It is also 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is from the Sun.
However, since its host star, the red dwarf Gliese 581, is smaller and colder than the Sun and thus less luminous the planet lies in the habitable zone, the region around a star where water could be liquid!
We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid, said Stéphane Udry from the Geneva Observatory, Switzerland and lead-author of the paper in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Moreover, its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earths radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky like our Earth or covered with oceans, he said.
Liquid water is critical to life as we know it and because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of the future space missions dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial life. On the treasure map of the Universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X, added Xavier Delfosse, a member of the team from Grenoble University, France.
According to the research team, the host star, Gliese 581, is among the 100 closest stars to us, located only 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra (the Scales).
The star has a mass only one third that of the Sun. Such red dwarfs are at least 50 times intrinsically fainter than the Sun and are the most common stars in our Galaxy. Among the 100 closest stars to the Sun, 80 belong to this class.
Red dwarfs are ideal targets for the search for such planets because they emit less light, and the habitable zone is thus much closer to them than it is around the Sun. Any planets that lie in this zone are more easily detected with the radial-velocity method, the most successful in detecting exoplanets, said Xavier Bonfils, a co-worker from Lisbon University.
I don’t know about “habitable”, though. I’d weigh 1000 lbs!
Now we need an FTL drive to get there.....
“However, unlike our Earth, this planet takes only 13 days to complete one orbit round its star”
Wow, a 13 day year. The IRS would love it.
I was going to say that Al Gore would find this as good news, but if you’d weigh 1000 lbs, he’d probably weigh 5,000.
The problem is that red dwarfs are rather unstable stars and prone to sending out large bursts of Xrays from time to time.
Wake me when they discover that it’s suffering from GlobalWarming.
You beat me to it, that is exactly what I was thinking. LOL
We could leave right now, and still not get there by breakfast...
How about dat.
Calling it “habitable” is an awfully optimistic claim. Interesting story anyway.
I suggest we immediately send Al Gore on a space shuttle to investigate.
Oh GREAT! If they have decoded our transmissions, they are now observing:
German lands airplane on Red Square, Moscow
Thatcher re-elected (again)
The INF agreement between the US and the USSR
Black Monday - Stock market drops 22% on October 19th.
Artists protest the ongoing Sistine Chapel restoration.
Condom commericals begin to appear on TV for the first time.
US budget reaches the trillion dollar mark.
Robert Bork was denied a Supreme Court appointment after opposition to his involvement in Richard Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" was raised.
Jessica Hahn is implicated in the Jimmy Bakker scandal
Wow, I'm almost 1500 years old!
I hope it’s water, because I’d weigh 300 pounds on that planet...........
It’d be interesting to know how much of this is sheer speculation. 99%? 100%?
The nice thing about theorizing like this is that you will never be disproven in your own lifetime.
Now maybe we’ll find out where all those UFO’s park. ;)
If it’s not M-Class, it’s not squat!
Seems like there's more speculation than science.