Possible habitable extrasolar planet found

Astronomers believe they have found an Earth-sized planet that orbits in a “habitable zone” around the red dwarf star, Gliese 581, which is about 20 light years from our Solar System.

The evidence suggests that Planet “g” is a rocky planet with a diameter about 1.2 to 1.4 times larger than Earth’s, they said in a paper posted online at arXiv.org, a pre-print archiving service. It will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

The planet’s mass means its gravity would be the same as, or slightly higher than, Earth’s, and a person could easily walk upright, Vogt said in a release. That is also enough gravity to hold onto an atmosphere.

The planet is “tidally locked” to the star that it orbits every 37 days, which means one side is always facing the star and one side faces away in perpetual darkness (similar to the way the Earth always faces the same side of the moon). That means that even though the average surface temperature is likely between -31 C and -12 C, one side is extremely hot, and the other side is always freezing cold.

Cue the Firefly theme song.

I saw this from NPR. The entire solar system would fit within the Earth’s orbit, but since it’s a red dwarf, it puts out much less energy.

Pretty cool.

Astronomy Nazi rant:

Our stellar system is called the Solar System because our sun is called Sol.

Then it would be the Gliese 581ar System, duh.

Also, our sun is called “sun” and our moon is called “moon”. Don’t overscientificate it just to make yourself sound smart.

Gliese 581g will probably take forever to reach and be a bitch to settle, but its star will still be around long, long after the Sun goes nova.

“Sun” and “moon” applies to any star and satellite, respectively. Sol and Luna are our sun’s and moon’s proper names. :P

It’s not about sounding smart, it’s stating a fact.

And Earth is… oh, wait.

Anyway, scientists who name a planet “g” shouldn’t be allowed to name stuff.

Seems like it’d be a very slim habitable zone with horrendous weather patterns. You may have boiling oceans on one side feeding torrential downpours composed of whatever chemicals right onto the habitable zone.

Hmm. Sounds like California.

That’s 175,200,000,000,000 kilometres (roughly 108,887,507,768,800 or 108 trillion miles). Our state-of-the-art shuttles, which are not built for interstellar travel, would take 707,058 years to reach Gliese 581.

Roughly 17,000 generations.

Sounds like we better get started, if we’re going to make it there by dinner.

This makes me want to read Rendezvous with Rama again.


I would say that the chances for life on this planet are 100 percent. I have almost no doubt about it," Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at University of California Santa Cruz, told Discovery News.

Science guys are smatr.

Keep in mind that when he says “life” he means microbes, not Klingons.

Steven “The Faith-Based Huckster” Vogt once again…

We don’t even know about everything under our own oceans on this planet and yet he chirps, “I would say that the chances for life on this planet are 100 percent.”


Space is a bust.

No wineglass pic? You’re getting soft, bro.

Maybe he means that there’s a 100% chance that there is a non-zero chance of life. But there’s probably only a 10% chance he meant that.

You lie. Captain Picard told me that space is the final frontier.

Ok well this is a first. I actually agree with the troll.

Honestly this stuff definitely stirs the imagination but Octomom is right…this is meaningless from a practical perspective.