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Scientists find potentially habitable Earth-like planet

Posted on Wednesday, April 25 2007 @ 14:32:28 CEST by

For the first time ever, scientists have found an Earth-like planet outside our Solar system which may be able to sustain human life. The planet is 20.5 light-years away in the Libra constellation and orbits the Gliese 581 star.

The discovery was made with the Eso 3.6m Telescope in Chile. The planet is 1.5 times bigger than Earth and is estimated to have a mean temperature between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius. Models indicate this planet is likely rocky or covered with oceans.

The planet is 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is to our Sun and completes a full orbit of its parent star in only 13 days. However, the planet won't be too hot because the host star is lots smaller and colder than our own Sun.

Scientists have already discovered more than 200 exoplanets but this is a unique case as the planet seems to have much in common with our own planet. Scientists say the environment of this new "Super Earth" might have the right ingredients for life.

By the way, this isn't the first planet found in the Gliese 581 system. Scientists already discovered two other plants in this system but those are much bigger than our own planet and unlikely to host life.



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