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Newfound planet may support alien life

Posted on Saturday, 22 September, 2012 | Comment icon 21 comments

Image credit: NASA

Astronomers have identified an extrasolar planet that is a top contender in the hunt for alien life.

Known as a 'super-Earth', the planet Gliese 163c is about 50 light years away and lies just on the edge of its star's habitable zone. It isn't clear if the planet is a rocky world or a small gas giant but at seven times the mass of Earth it is considerably larger than our own terrestrial sphere. There is a small chance that the planet will pass in front of its star from our perspective which would offer scientists the chance to learn more about it.

"There are a wide range of structures and compositions that allow Gliese 163c to be a habitable planet," said astronomer Xavier Bonfils whose team made the discovery.

"The Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL) at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo keeps a catalog of the alien worlds it considers good candidates to host life."

  View: Full article |  Source: Live Science

  Discuss: View comments (21)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #12 Posted by synchronomy on 23 September, 2012, 18:43
Ok, so if it's in the Goldilocks zone, it may harbor life. How exactly would we then determine if it does in fact, harbor life...what type or if it's intelligent? What then would be our next step? Send a probe? Just catalog it and move on to the next? I guess these will be answered in due course. Significant progress has already been made, in that not long ago, it was only a theory that other stars may have planets! If you think about it, that really is leaps and bounds of developments in a short time.
Comment icon #13 Posted by pallidin on 23 September, 2012, 20:09
Yes, and one thing is for certain. Given our past history and current state-of-affairs, intelligent life on earth is pretty much negated. We must look for it elsewhere, or deep within ourselves.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 23 September, 2012, 23:31
Sending a probe is out of the question for the foreseeable future, unless you want to wait tens of thousands of years for the results. Analysis of the atmospheric composition of the planet could give indication of life, that capability will be available soon. Determining whether there is intelligent life or not is a tricky matter, after all many people consider dolphins intelligent but they are unlikely to become a technological species. If a species has developed technology on a planet (and is at a level we are capable of understanding) then radio communications would be a give away, and al... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by spud the mackem on 9 October, 2012, 8:43
If we do determine that there is life of some sort on this planet,what happens next ?
Comment icon #16 Posted by bison on 9 October, 2012, 22:32
It's not altogether clear that a technological species would necessarily alter the atmosphere of its planet sufficiently for us to detect their presence in this way. If atmospheric signs of life in general were found at an extra-solar planet, there would probably be an all-out effort to detect any signs of radio transmissions from it. The SETI Institute is doing this merely on the strength of planets being detected around a given star, without any knowledge, yet, about life being present.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Parsec on 11 October, 2012, 22:42
We nuke'em! Well, it's "only" 50 light years away, it could be one of the first targets for the 100 Year Starship Project
Comment icon #18 Posted by JGirl on 11 October, 2012, 23:17
that's what i'd like to know.
Comment icon #19 Posted by spud the mackem on 12 October, 2012, 7:47
They will probably go into Secret Squirrel mode and tell no one in case we panic.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Taun on 12 October, 2012, 10:52
Some people would claim that we never found anything out and there is no real proof... Some would claim the government faked the info for some nefarious reason.. some would start dancing around claiming 'the aliens' are our spiritual saviours and we should be 'more like them' -even though we have no idea what they are like... some would claim they are our spiritual enemies and we must protect agains them... some would insist that we spend trillions to contact them... some would insist that we do our utmost to hide from them... Religious people would debate all sides of the sp... [More]

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