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Gliese 581c - Habitable ExoPlanet Found!

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#1    Lilly


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Posted 25 April 2007 - 12:59 AM

Holy Cow! Yep, they finally found one.


WASHINGTON - For the first time astronomers have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is potentially habitable, with Earth-like temperatures, a find researchers described Tuesday as a big step in the search for "life in the universe."

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#2    The Mule

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 01:04 AM

Here's another link about the same planet


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#3    LordBishop


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Posted 25 April 2007 - 01:14 AM


150 Years
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#4    EmpressStarXVII


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Posted 25 April 2007 - 01:26 AM

Wooohoo!!! When is the next flight out!

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#5    Cryptoman


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Posted 25 April 2007 - 03:37 AM

First Habitable Earthlike Planet Found, Experts Say
James Owen
for National Geographic News

April 24, 2007  
The first known planet beyond the solar system that could harbor life as we know it has been discovered, scientists report.

The most Earthlike planet yet found, it orbits a red dwarf star and likely contains liquid water, said the European astronomers who made the discovery.

The planet is estimated to be only 50 percent larger than Earth, making it the smallest planet yet found outside the solar system, according to a team led by Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland.

Known as Gliese 581 c, the newfound world is located in the constellation Libra, some 20.5 light-years away.

The planet is named after the red dwarf star it orbits, Gliese 581, which is among the hundred closest stars to Earth.

Because the planet is 14 times nearer to its star than Earth is to the sun, a year there lasts just 13 days. Gravity on the planet's surface, though, may be twice as strong as Earth's gravity.

Despite the close proximity to its parent star, however, Gliese 581 c lies within the relatively cool habitable zone of its solar system. That's because red dwarfs are relatively small and dim, and are cooler than our sun, the team explained.

The scientists estimated the planet's surface temperature at between 32 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit (0 and 40 degrees Celsius).

"This means water can exist in liquid form," Udry said. "If you want life like our own, then you need water."

The team reports its findings in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Rock or Oceans

The new world could feature familiar, rocky terrains or be completely covered with oceans, the researchers said.

In either case, Gliese 581 c will likely become a target for missions in search of extraterrestrial life, they added.

"We still have a long way to go before reaching that point. But for sure it's the best candidate we know of right now," Udry commented.

"The planet is really close to us," he said. Still, it would take 20 years to get there if traveling at the speed of light, and another 20 to return.

Gliese 581 c is better suited to life than larger planets like Jupiter, which tend to be dense masses of gas, Udry explained.

(See an interactive map of the solar system.)

"You need a rocky planet to find life—the big giants are not the best places for that," he said.

More precise instruments have recently enabled astronomers to detect small "exoplanets"—worlds found outside our solar system.

"We started to find them two or three years ago," Udry said. Thirteen exoplanets that have less than 20 times the weight of Earth have been discovered so far, he noted.

"We found them very easily, so it looks like they are much more numerous than the giant planets we were finding before," the astronomer said.

Planet Hunter

The new planet was detected using an instrument called a spectrograph at the European Southern Observatory at La Silla, Chile.

Known as the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planetary Searcher (HARPS), the device is described by the team as a "unique planet-hunting machine."

It works by detecting the pull of an unseen exoplanet on the star it orbits. An orbiting planet causes its star to wobble slightly, and this effect can be measured by instruments such as HARPS.

Advanced spectrographs are enabling astronomers to detect ever smaller planets, said Michael Perryman of the European Space Agency's Astrophysics Missions Division in the Netherlands.

"The wobble for these planets that they are detecting now is very, very tiny—about three meters [nine feet] per second, which is about the speed you run at," Perryman said.

"New planets are being discovered every few weeks or so," he added. "The interesting development is when you start getting these lower-mass planets closer to [the weight] of the Earth."

The newfound planet is especially noteworthy, Perryman said.

"As soon as you find a planet at the right distance [from its star] such that liquid water might exist, then you're saying this is the kind of environment in which one might start looking for life," he added.

Udry, of the Geneva Observatory, said the goal of future programs is to find a planet and star pairing to match that of Earth and the sun.

"We are now developing instruments which will allow us to find those," Udry said

"We hope, and even expect, to have these habitable planets all over the place."

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#6    Leonardo



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Posted 25 April 2007 - 05:55 AM

Very exciting discovery, yet I feel the disquieting urge to "Harrumph" and mention that the presence of water has not yet been detected. Also would be interested to find out if they have recognised the signature of any atmosphere on said planet.

A question, if anyone knows. How is the mean surface temperature determined? Is it simply a calculation of distance from star vs stars' luminosity across the em spectrum?

Anyway, great find Lilly!!!  thumbsup.gif

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#7    louie


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Posted 25 April 2007 - 05:00 PM

New 'super-Earth' found in space  

The new planet is not much bigger than the Earth

Astronomers have found the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, a world which could have water running on its surface.
The planet orbits the faint star Gliese 581, which is 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra.

Scientists made the discovery using the Eso 3.6m Telescope in Chile.

They say the benign temperatures on the planet mean any water there could exist in liquid form, and this raises the chances it could also harbour life.

"We have estimated that the mean temperature of this 'super-Earth' lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid," explained Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory, lead author of the scientific paper reporting the result.

For full story see: bbc news

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 25 April 2007 - 09:54 PM.
reduced quote material to comply with cut and paste rules.

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#8    Super Pancake

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 07:09 PM

Packing my bags later guys

#9    Devendra


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Posted 25 April 2007 - 07:12 PM


Packing my bags later guys

So you could have a birthday party every 13 days?

#10    Legatus Legionis

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 07:14 PM

other planets that may contain life. or life is plausible. makes me excited. i wish we could somehow get to that planet and live there. dwarf stars live longer than our sun.  alien.gif    cool.gif

#11    odas



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Posted 25 April 2007 - 07:22 PM

Hm, so work 5 days, have a two day weekend and then 6 days on vacation. Superb, where do I sign up?

#12    ROGER


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Posted 25 April 2007 - 07:23 PM

I thought Red Dwarf stars were at the end of thier life cycle. The RED color meaning its fuel is running out.
or am I totaly wrong!

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#13    Pax Unum

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 08:27 PM


I thought Red Dwarf stars were at the end of thier life cycle. The RED color meaning its fuel is running out.
or am I totaly wrong!


Red dwarfs fuse hydrogen to helium via the proton-proton (PP) chain. Due to the low temperatures in the core, fusion proceeds slowly. Consequently they emit little light, sometimes as little as 1/10,000th that of the sun. In general red dwarfs transport energy from the core to the surface via convection. As red dwarfs are fully convective, they can burn a larger proportion of their hydrogen before leaving the main sequence than larger stars, such as the Sun. Thus red dwarfs have an enormous estimated lifespan; from tens of billions up to trillions of years depending upon mass; the lower the mass, the longer the lifespan.

LINK-> Red dwarf

#14    Princess Serenity

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 09:25 PM

That's pretty awsome. I wonder if the planet itself supports life already. ^^

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#15    chemical-licker


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Posted 25 April 2007 - 09:38 PM

i built my space ship just needed a destination,  yipee!!  final got my target,  well see you earth people, ill send you a postcard.

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