New Planet Discovered

A new planet has been found that has scientists very excited, as it may be the first new planet that is capable of sustaining life.

Planet Gliese 581g is about the same size as Earth and might even have water on its surface. It’s being called the “Goldilocks planet” as it sits right in what’s called the habitable zone, a zone that could theoretically sustain life.  It also has many characteristics that are similar to our own Earth.

Gliese 581g has a mass that’s about three times that of our Earth’s and it has an orbital period of just under 37 days. The Goldilocks planet is about 20 light years from Earth, inside the constellation Libra.

This new planet was found circling the nearby dwarf star Gliese 581 by a team headed by Professor Steven Vogt of the University of California and Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. They’re extremely excited that this planet could sustain life.

“This really is the first Goldilocks planet,” said Butler.

Temperatures on Gliese 581g can be as hot as 160 degrees or as cold as 25 degrees below zero, but in between you’d be looking at “shirt-sleeve weather,” said Vogt.

It’s unknown whether water actually exists on the planet, and what kind of atmosphere to expect, but because conditions are ideal for liquid water, and because there is usually life where there’s water here on Earth, Vogt thinks “that chances for life on this planet are 100 percent.”

In fact, Penn State University’s Jim Kasting was quoted as saying, “This is the first one I’m truly excited about.” He said this planet is a “pretty prime candidate” for harboring life.

What do you think?  Are we alone in the universe or do discoveries like this tend to make you think that we may have company?