A multi-national team of Swiss, French and Portuguese scientists have discovered the first potentially habitable planet outside of our solar system. It is estimated to have a radius 50% bigger than the Earth, so gravity on it would be about twice as strong as it is here, and it orbits a red dwarf called Gliese in the constellation Libra.
The exoplanet is 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is from the Sun and so its year is only 13 Earth days long. The good news is that since the red dwarf is “smaller and cooler than the Sun, (one third of the mass), the planet lies in a habitable zone. I wonder how many days of summer would that be?
"Average temperatures on the planet lie between 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit " said Stéphane Udry of Switzerland’s Geneva Observatory, lead author of a paper reporting the result. “Models predict that the planet should be either rocky—like our Earth—or covered with oceans,” he added
“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 extraterrestrial life. On the treasure map of the Universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X.”
The find was possible thanks to an instrument known as a spectrograph on the European Southern Observatory’s 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla, Chile.
Great…. Anther planet for humans to destroy… I hope extraterrestrials are working on a force field or at the very least an extraterrestrials brain wave scanning system. Than again, if they are already scooping us out for potential galaxy trade, than I, for one, will welcome the new class M planet overlords.
"You expect us to sit up here for a week while probes have all the fun?"
- Enterprise/Strange New World - Tripp (Commander Charles Tucker)