Scientists ID 'Habitable' Exoplanet
New model suggests Gliese 581D a likely candidate for life
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2011 5:33 AM CDT
This artistic illustration released by the European Southern Observatory shows planets orbiting the red dwarf star, Gliese 581.    (AP Photo/European Southern Observatory)

(Newser) – A new computer climate model has turned up the strongest evidence yet that a planet in the Gliese system is capable of sustaining life, the Telegraph reports. Researchers believe Gliese 581d, which orbits a red dwarf 20 light years away, not only exists in the "Goldilocks zone" where water can be present in liquid form, but is big enough to have a stable carbon dioxide atmosphere and "warm enough to have oceans, clouds, and rainfall," according to France's National Centre for Scientific Research.

Similar life-sustaining claims have been made for other planets in the Gliese system, but the latest research uses a model better able to simulate possible climates, Popular Science notes. Earth-like life may exist on the planet, but it probably wouldn't be a pleasant place for Earthlings: Researchers believe its surface is shrouded in "a perpetual murky red twilight," its atmosphere is toxic, and its surface gravity is around double that of Earth.

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Showing 3 of 26 comments
May 18, 2011 10:55 AM CDT
Keep in mind that this is the same star system that got all the attention late last year. Gliese 581 G and D may both be stable, but that's like looking at Earth and Venus from afar. It is, however, just a matter of time before these data come into laser focus and we find liquid H20 -the exoplanet holy grail. We find the planets, zero in and wait. It takes a while but I promise, this is just the beginning. We at NASA are cautious cats, but this is why we do what we do!
May 18, 2011 8:03 AM CDT
So let's go!
May 18, 2011 7:49 AM CDT
And only 300 000 years away with current rocket tech. I think we need to invent warp drive real fast