Newly discovered planet may be first truly habitable exoplanet

Via University of California Santa Cruz News:

A team of planet hunters led by astronomers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington has announced the discovery of an Earth-sized planet (three times the mass of Earth) orbiting a nearby star at a distance that places it squarely in the middle of the star's "habitable zone," where liquid water could exist on the planet's surface. If confirmed, this would be the most Earth-like exoplanet yet discovered and the first strong case for a potentially habitable one.
To astronomers, a "potentially habitable" planet is one that could sustain life, not necessarily one that humans would consider a nice place to live. Habitability depends on many factors, but liquid water and an atmosphere are among the most important.
"Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet," said Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. "The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common."
The findings are based on 11 years of observations at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. "Advanced techniques combined with old-fashioned ground-based telescopes continue to lead the exoplanet revolution," said Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution. "Our ability to find potentially habitable worlds is now limited only by our telescope time."

Zie hier de aankondiging:

En hier het artikel (pdf) dat in de Astrophysical Journal en op zal worden gepubliceerd.
Overige links:

  1. Earth-Like Planet Can Sustain Life
  2. Gliese 581 g artikel in Wikipedia
  3. Earth is no Longer ‘One of a Kind’, artikel van Ian O'Neill op Astroengine.
  4. Astronomers Find Most Earth-like Planet to Date
  5. Gliese 581g: the most Earth like planet yet discovered
  6. Discussie op Slashdot
  7. Artikel op Wikipedia over "Tidal Locking".