Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Gliese 581 C: a New Earth?

For some years now, astronomers have been racking up discoveries of extra-solar planets—that is, planets circling other stars. It's been very exciting, but until now, they've mostly been giant planets, because those are the most easily detected. And they've all been way outside the presumed habitable range in terms of distance from their suns. That has now changed, according to study leader Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland. reports:

An Earth-like planet spotted outside our solar system is the first found that could support liquid water and harbor life, scientists announced today.

Liquid water is a key ingredient for life as we know it. The newfound planet is located at the "Goldilocks" distance—not too close and not too far from its star to keep water on its surface from freezing or vaporizing away.

And while astronomers are not yet able to look for signs of biology on the planet, the discovery is a milestone in planet detection and the search for extraterrestrial life.
This possible Earth-like planet is only 20 light-years away, circling the red dwarf star Gliese 581. Read the whole story on

As an aside, although we haven't yet discovered weird life on other planets, we do have some pretty weird life on this one (outside of the federal government, I mean). Check out this short video of a bird of paradise performing a mating dance.

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At 9:11 AM, Blogger Victoria said...

Jeff, I gather you've recovered? That's good news.

I really hope someone comes up with a sexier name for the newly discovered planet than "Gliese 581 C." It sounds like an IRS form.

You might point out that the bird of paradise struts his stuff to no apparent avail; the lady bird rolls her eyes and says, in bird-speak, "I am SO out of here!" I understand her perfectly.

Peace, V.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Charlza said...

ahh...thanks for that bird link. I missed that episode.

Glad you're feelin' better.

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Jeffrey A. Carver said...

>> You might point out that the bird of paradise struts his stuff to no apparent avail...

You've saved me the trouble. :)

At 10:39 PM, Blogger substandardTim said...

In some sense I suppose this should be exciting to me but really...humans haven't even made it past our own moon. Unless they solve faster than light travel in the next couple decades and do it in a way that all of our cars can be retrofitted, none of us will ever have the chance to see it.

I'm usually not that callous when it comes to science and astronomy. I think maybe it's the medication talking. I sleep now.


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