Planet Gliese 581g–First Habitable Alien World? Nearly two years after spotting Gliese 581g, the celebrated “first potentially habitable” alien world, the planet’s discoverers continue to fight for its existence.
The discovery of Gliese 581g made headlines around the world in September 2010, because the planet was said to orbit in the middle of its star’s “habitable zone” — that just-right range of distances where liquid water, and perhaps life as we know it, could exist.
In a new study to be published August 1st, 581g’s discoverers examine the Swiss team’s since-expanded data set and take issue with their conclusions, saying that the evidence supports the planet’s existence after all.
The Gliese 581 system is a near neighbor of Earth, located just 20 light-years away.
Planet hunters are finding more and more worlds beyond our solar system. The tally is nearing 800 by some counts, with thousands more awaiting confirmation by follow-up observations. And while researchers have yet to find a true alien Earth, they’re getting closer and closer.
This past December, for example, NASA’s Kepler space telescope confirmed its first planet in the habitable zone, a “super Earth” known as Kepler-22b that’s thought to be 2.4 times as wide as our planet. And another potentially habitable super Earth, known as Gliese 667Cc, was discovered in February.
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