"Goldilocks Planet" found...(may have conditions suitable for life)

No mention of bears or porridge, but some astronomers think they’ve found a planet that is similar enough to Earth that it could have liquid water, or even life:

AP linky

If there is life there, it’s gotta be tough on the guys. Their “year” is only 37 earth days long, and that’s a helluva lot of birthday/anniversary presents to buy…

It’s tidally locked to its sun, so it’s perennially summer or winter depending on where you stand. Pretty much 0% chance of life I’d say; any water that wandered away from the terminator either boils off or deep freezes forever.

Several? :dubious: at 1% c that’s 2,000 years …

Did somebody flunk their community college Astronomy 101 course?

Seriously, why do they use miles instead of light years? It’s so much easier to grok that it’s 20.4 light years away, but 120 trillion miles? Incomprehensible.

Here’s Phil Plait’s (the Bad Astronomer) article on the discovery.

I also find it funny that barely two weeks ago, a paper came out that projected the discovery of an Earth-like planet to come about in May 2011…

Of course, the tidal locking makes for some difficulties with habitability, but if the planet’s got an atmosphere, there might be enough convection to at least lead to a somewhat comfy twilight zone; if that’s the case, seems like we have a nice future (OK, far future) vacation resort for the somewhat athletically inclined at hands: at three Earth masses, I get about a radius of 1.4 times the Earth’s, assuming a similar density, meaning a surface gravity of about 1.5g – sounds like a good workout.

But the really important thing here is that the discovery of such a planet this close (in cosmic terms) to us implies that there’s a good possibility that they’re relatively common; if the trends in planetary discovery hold up, we’ll probably see a slew of Earth-likes being discovered over the next few months and years. Exciting times!

No idea, I don’t see that done in other languages except when the article is a direct translation from one originating in the US. <— ETA, this was adressing EvilTOJ

The newsbit itself is interesting, though (sadly, not accesible from work). From what you guys mention, it sounds like that planet may have some huge currents, with those temperature differentials and assuming there’s decent-sized water bodies.

Here’s a good article on the possibility of life on tidally-locked planets orbiting red dwarfs; in short, it doesn’t seem as dire as one might at first imagine. :slight_smile:

Mining the Bad Astronomy comments for further gems, here’s a picture comparing the Gliese system to ours; the little blue-white dot labelled ‘g’ is the planet in question.

I think this is very exciting. I do think the remark by one scientist that there’s a “100% chance of life!” (which has been getting a lot of play in the media) is unfortunate. (To be fair, I suppose he may have been misquoted.) If we detected oxygen in the atmosphere, as far as I’m concerned we could pretty much say “Yup, there’s life!”, but even then, a really rigorous response would have to be “Well, there could be some unknown non-biological process producing that oxygen.” And of course we haven’t detected oxygen in this planet’s atmosphere, or liquid water on its surface. It’s the right size and at the right distance from its star to permit liquid water–and like I said, that’s an amazing discovery–but we just don’t know enough yet to know if there’s life there or not.

I think it’s pretty exciting, too. I’d love for scientists to find life elsewhere in the universe during my lifetime.