Super-Earth Orbits Red Dwarf

Gliese 581 is a red dwarf – smaller and colder than our Sun – which is ‘only’ just over 20 light years from here and scientists just found an Earth-like planet orbiting around it. It is 1.5 times the size of our home world, rocky and, with temperatures between 0°C and 40°C, very likely to have liquid water on its surface. Where there is water, there is also very often life too, and the search has started to determine if living organisms are to be expected on Gliese 581 c, as this big “Earth II” is known.

The planet is of course too far to send an exploration ship in the near future, and we’ll need to develop an appropriate technology that will enable humans to go and visit it one day. In the meantime, radio waves from Earth dating from the mid-eighties have just reached it, making us somehow hope that there isn’t any advanced civilisation listening – with Culture Club and Spandau Ballet, what must they think of us!?

Astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, an exoplanet with a radius only 50% larger than the Earth and capable of having liquid water.

Source: ESO

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