Skip to comments.Scientists discover a nearly Earth-sized planet (water world found?)
Posted on 04/21/2009 3:45:07 PM PDT by americanophile
HATFIELD, England In the search for Earth-like planets, astronomers zeroed in Tuesday on two places that look awfully familiar to home. One is close to the right size. The other is in the right place. European researchers said they not only found the smallest exoplanet ever, called Gliese 581 e, but realized that a neighboring planet discovered earlier, Gliese 581 d, was in the prime habitable zone for potential life.
"The Holy Grail of current exoplanet research is the detection of a rocky, Earth-like planet in the 'habitable zone,'" said Michel Mayor, an astrophysicist at Geneva University in Switzerland.
An American expert called the discovery of the tiny planet "extraordinary."
Gliese 581 e is only 1.9 times the size of Earth while previous planets found outside our solar system are closer to the size of massive Jupiter, which NASA says could swallow more than 1,000 Earths.
Gliese 581 e sits close to the nearest star, making it too hot to support life. Still, Mayor said its discovery in a solar system 20 1/2 light years away from Earth is a "good example that we are progressing in the detection of Earth-like planets."
Scientists also discovered that the orbit of planet Gliese 581 d, which was found in 2007, was located within the "habitable zone" a region around a sun-like star that would allow water to be liquid on the planet's surface, Mayor said.
He spoke at a news conference Tuesday at the University of Hertfordshire during the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science.
Gliese 581 d is probably too large to be made only of rocky material, fellow astronomer and team member Stephane Udry said, adding it was possible the planet had a "large and deep" ocean.
"It is the first serious 'water-world' candidate," Udry said.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
‘It was possible’ to have a large and deep ocean. I don’t think they know for sure yet.
And already Obama said he was sorry about the wrongs the USA might do to it.
I really wish that wasn't as funny as it is.
We need a Tardis.
Excellent! When can we begin exploiting it’s natural resources?
Next they will have indisputable proof of life there.
20 1/2 light years is like right next door!
They could be watching Melrose Place, Will & Grace, Ally McBeal, and Suddenly Susan right now. Those poor aliens.
Can we send all the liberals there?
He has to bow first, then apologize.
Or even worse, MSNBC.
what is that from?
An artist's impression of 'Planet e' , forground left, released by the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere Tuesday April 21, 2009. Exoplanet researcher Michel Mayor announced Tuesday the discovery of the lightest exoplanet found so far. The planet, 'e', in the famous system Gliese 581, in the constellation of Libra and 20.5 light years (192 trillion km or 119 trillion miles) away, is only about twice the mass of Earth...
The ocean part is complete BS. There’s no possible way he could know that to be true - from the dearth of information we have it could just be a particularly massive rock, or equally possible a binary planet (which would be a very cool find in it’s own right). We’re maybe a decade away from having instruments with the level of sensitivity required to start finding earth-like worlds, and until then it’s all just speculation.
Great comment, I will have to steal it!
Gliese 581 is a red dwarf sun 20.3 light years away from Earth. This would mean a travel time of over 200 years with an unmanned Orion thermonuclear powered spaceship.
However, if that spaceship had an entangled qubit communications system, effectively creating faster than light communications, it could likewise be used as a deep space Hubble telescope.
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THE GLIESE 581 SOLAR SYSTEMFrom closest in to furthest outPlanet e is 1.9 Earth massesPlanet b is 16 Earth massesPlanet c is 5 Earth massesPlanet d is 7 Earth massesThe first planet to be found is always given the 'b' designation
...Gliese 581 e takes just 3.15 days to orbit its host star... The team now believes planet d (which is about seven Earth-masses in size) circles Gliese 581 in 66.8 days.