Friday, October 1, 2010

Newly Discovered Planet May Hold Life...!

This newly discovered planet has the Earth-like conditions that are suitable for life. It was found smack-dab in the middle of what astronomers call the habitable zone. It orbits a dwarf star called Gliese 581 every 37 days. If fact, the distance from the star is the right distance in which liquid water is possible...
It is about three times the mass of Earth, slightly larger in width and much closer to its star — 14 million miles away versus 93 million. It's so close to its version of the sun that it orbits every 37 days. And it doesn't rotate much, so one side is almost always bright, the other dark. Temperatures can be as hot as 160 degrees or as frigid as 25 degrees below zero, but in between — in the land of constant sunrise — it would be "shirt-sleeve weather," said co-discoverer Steven Vogt of the University of California at Santa Cruz. It's unknown whether water actually exists on the planet, and what kind of atmosphere it has. But because conditions are ideal for liquid water, and because there always seems to be life on Earth where there is water, Vogt believes "that chances for life on this planet are 100 percent."
100%  that's Cool... but don't start packing your bags yet.
This new world is about 120 million miles away and a ride on a spaceship would take several generations just to get there. On the bright side however, if you step back and look at it in a larger picture, 120 million miles in space is a pretty small distance.
And what kind of life is actually on this planet? Well don't get your hopes up with seeing tall-blue Avatars running about or pointy eared Vulcans... If the life discovered is even the 'equivalent of shower mold', the news would certainly have us questioning our perceptions of the uniqueness of life on Earth...
Vogt and Butler ran some calculations, with giant fudge factors built in, and figured that as much as one out of five to 10 stars in the universe have planets that are Earth-sized and in the habitable zone. With an estimated 200 billion stars in the universe, that means maybe 40 billion planets that have the potential for life, Vogt said. 
via yahoonews

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