Gliese 581 Astronomy Research: Goldilocks planet may just be right for life

By on Sep 30, 2010 in Astronomy, Science Comments

For the first time, astronomers say they have spotted a planet beyond our own in what is sometimes called the Goldilocks zone, which is now being said that it may be ready for life.

According to the latest report from NASA, the Goldilocks planet is neither too big nor too small for the proper surface, gravity and atmosphere, just like planet Earth.

This planet was said to be having three times the mass of Earth, orbiting a nearby star at a distance that places it squarely in the middle of the star’s “habitable zone.”

This is not similar to any of the nearly 500 other planets that astronomers have found outside our solar system, NASA reports emphasized.

The new findings were based on 11 years of observations of the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 581, using the Keck I Telescope, located in W. M. Keck Observatory, in Hawaii, and considered as one of the world’s largest optical telescopes.

The research was sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation, with Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, and Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, as the leaders of the team.

“This really is the first Goldilocks planet,” said Paul Butler about the report.

“Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet,” said Vogt.

“The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common.” He added.

However, it is not known whether water actually exists on the planet, and what kind of atmosphere the Goldilocks planet has.

But because conditions are seen to be ideal for liquid water, and there always seems to be life on Earth where there is water, Vogt believes “that chances for life on this planet are 100 percent.”

This latest findings of the astronomers are being published in Astrophysical Journal and were announced by the National Science Foundation on Wednesday.



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