Habitable, earth-like planet discovered - Macleans.ca

Habitable, earth-like planet discovered

First “Goldilocks” planet can sustain life


For the first time ever, scientists have found an Earth-like planet which, they believe, is habitable for life. Announced Wednesday by scientists, the planet is called Gliese 581G and is relatively close to the Earth—just 20 light years away from our solar system. Its size and distance from the sun is comparable to Earth’s, which has led scientists to believe that the conditions on the planet would mean there is water in liquid form and has a gravitational pull to hold an atmosphere around it. The Gliese 581 system also exhibits similar characteristics to our solar system. “This is our first Goldilocks planet—just the right size and the right distance from its sun,” said Paul Butler, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution of Washington to the Washington Post.

Washington Post

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Habitable, earth-like planet discovered

  1. It better have a moon and a liquid metal core.

  2. finally Earth 2 has been discovered just like in DC comics!

    • or like in the movie jason x

  3. "just 20 light years away"… yeah just.

    • no that far all things condidered. closest solar system to ours is 4 light years. think about it that way. RELATIVELY CLOSE

  4. How can they possibly know this is an earth like planet? There are a million variables that could cause this planet to be uninhabitable and we have no possible way to measure these variables.

    • See below, this planet doesn't rotate. That is an issue for sure.

  5. does it have HDTV?

    • Only 720p, losers.

      • but jumping straight to 3D immersion TVs soon! ;-)

  6. Or not, since we'll just mess that one up too.

    • we'll find another one for another exit plan when the time comes!

  7. Interesting stuff. Centuries from now, some of our descendants could be living on this planet. It could even be the first extrasolar planet that we colonize, given the proximity to our solar system.

    • Unfortunately what they aren't telling you is that the planet is locked around the star in the same manner as our moon orbits us, with the same side always facing in.

      Far from a goldilocks planet, this is more like Mama bear and Papa bear planet combined, with maybe a thin slice of "just right" area around the middle. I posted a good article for it down below if you want to know more.

      This doesn't mean that it's impossible for us to colonize, but I'm not packing humanities bags just yet. We'll probably find better candidates, by the time we can even think of getting there.

      • just like hunting for a new job! :-)

      • Tidal locking would be a problem if we were planning to terraform that planet, but for purposes of colonization it shouldn't be an issue. As you point out, there is likely to be a thin temperate slice between the bright side and the dark side.

        By the time we're technologically advanced enough to attempt manned interstellar travel (the voyage itself would probably take a century or two), the challenge of constructing enclosed habitats on rocky planets will probably seem trivial. By then, we'll have had many years of practice doing this in our own solar system.

        Since it's a rocky planet, we can live on it and mine it for metals. Since it's three or four times more massive than Earth, and it orbits its star in the "habitable zone", it probably has water and an atmosphere full of useful volatiles.

        I agree that there's a chance we'll find better candidates, but who knows? There are only 116 known stars within a 20 light year radius from our solar system.

        • Being a crazy optimist with regards to future space exploration I am buying almost everything you're selling. It is quite possible that if humans are around 10,000 years from now they may very well have set foot on this planet. (unless we're fighting for our survival with the Klingons)

          I'm not buying that this will be the first extrasolar planet we visit, as there are about 15 stars within 20 light years that are much more sun-like then this one. I have a strong hunch that some of these have more suitable planetary systems.

          I'm also not optimistic about this planet having an atmospere. There is no way to know that. I'm also pretty sure that there is no liquid water there, due to the tidal locking.

          Other then that it is fun to think about humans one day walking on this planet. Who knows, by that time we will be bioengineered enough to survive without water or atmosphere.

          • I don't know if one of those 15 sun-like stars is more likely to have an Earth-like planet, but as a like-minded optimist I completely agree that there's a good chance that we'll find a suitable candidate even closer to our own system. Are sun-like stars more likely to have earth-like planets orbiting them? I was under the impression that it doesn't matter whether the star is sun-like or a red dwarf, as long it has rocky planets orbiting within the "habitable zone".

            It doesn't really matter if the planet has liquid water. If it has frozen ice caps on the dark side, that's just as useful. One would imagine that the planet has some kind of atmosphere, given its mass, but even if the atmosphere is as thin as Mars, that's OK as long as it has a good supply of frozen volatiles.

            I doubt it's even possible to be bioengineered enough to survive without water or atmosphere, but that's irrelevant, since we'll rely on space suits that supply the required levels of pressure, oxygen, water, radiation shielding, and other necessary life-support functions whenever we venture outdoors. We've had that technology since the sixties, after all. Hundreds of years from now, it will probably be so advanced that it will seem like a second skin.

  8. wow great !! how many kilometers in one light year distance?

    • 1 light year = 9,460,528,400,000 kilometers

    • Or put it this way, if we could travel at the speed of light which is 186,000 miles(300,00km) per second It would take us 20 years & nothing can go faster than light so if we did figure out away to travel at that speed, 20 years is the very minimum.

      • Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

      • well by then we'll have functioning cryo-sleep since we already have some reaserch in the field

  9. Gliese 581G doesn't have much of a ring to it. I say we officially rename it Plan B.

  10. Well, considering the theoretically fastest vessel available is a Mini-Magnetosphere Plasma Propulsion (M2P2) which uses solar radiation in conjunction with a "magnetic sail" is about 400km/s (800,000mph) and that a light-year is about 299,792,458 meters (186,282 miles), doing the math, we could have a manned expedition on Gliese 581g by the year 2509! (about 499 years of travel).

    I don't see it… That's about 20 generations of people on a space shuttle…

    • Disregard my measure of light-years. It's actually 15750 years… so yeah, no.

      • Thanks for the fix… that was bugging me. I thought light was 186K Miles a second.

    • the sooner we start…

      • what about anti-matter propulsion or whatever it`s called?? jw

  11. Did Jesus go there too? Or do they have their own Jesus? Would our Jesus beat their Jesus in a fight? So many questions…

  12. you think i'll god would beat their god?

  13. A hundred years ago, we were riding horses. We are now capable of detecting planets and whether they can sustain life. and in my opinion M2P2 is just the start of our space exploration. Can we even comprehend where we will be in another hundred years. I truly believe that this will be just the start of great things to come. I just hope there is some sort of life forms there, even if it`s on the microscpic level. Go plant Earth!!!!

    • I am hoping we will have Star Fleet and at least the first of the Babylon stations!! ;-)

      • Tip to the wise: don't go on the first four.

  14. …humans go there before 2012!!!

  15. I wouldn't get too excited guys, and gals.

    I don't rule out the possibility, but life would have a tougher time on a planet that has one side always facing the sun, and the other in perpetual freezing darkness.

    Still an exciting enough find, but not as exciting as the hyperbolic lamestream media makes it out to be.

    • Can't disagree with you, but can't we bury the 'lamestream' line? I mean, please! Pretty please!! I will supply the cherry

      • Fair enough, but just because the source of the term is Sarah "Quitter" Palin, doesn't mean it isn't sometimes apt.

        I get discouraged with all the sensationalistic science reporting in the major press. It makes science look bad, and when the truth is revealed, the credibility of all science suffers.

        I just wish they could talk to us like adults, instead of trying for the interesting but misleading headlines.

  16. You pessimist enviro-types must be fun at parties.

    • yup we do. and they involve protecting what we already got, rather than destroying it and looking for more to destroy. i guess you optimist non-enviro-types have a lot more fun at parties/

  17. Why do they always say "for life" rather than "for life as we know/understand it"? We have life on Earth that contradicts what we understand of it, so why is it so hard to consider the same for the rest of the Universe?

  18. Space…The final frontier…..

  19. It isn't Earth-like.

    One side reportedly faces the sun constantly. The other faces space. The region of habitable space is supposedly in-between.

    • But still habitable ?

      • even if only half of the planet is touched by the sun thats still helps with population control on this earth, who says we cant live on 2 planets

  20. How about we don't go to that planet. How do we know it is not already inhabited by other beings? We could't just go there and take it. there would be a giant war of the planets ourbreak. And to those who say "we are earth we can do anything we want we are all powerful" News flash: we don't know what kind of weapons of mass destruction they themselves have or if they are more advanced than us. Lets just stay on our own little blue planet, work on keeping it alive, and not try to cause chaos

    • Good point, How about if ''that'' planet you speak of', It's inhabitants have just now discovered our planet and are thinking the exact same thing that we are.? Maybe one Day we will meet them halfway in space while trying to explore each others planets…..Just a thought….

      • That reminds me of a nice little sci-fi story i read years ago, don't remember who wrote it. It was about just such a meeting. A human exploratory ship finds a stranded alien ship and rescues the crew of that ship and returns them to their outpost. When they get back to Earth, they are asked how it went. One of the crew says they are humanoid but ugly looking bastards. however, during the trip we found out they are not so different from us. When asked how that was possible, he said,"Well, you see, we spent the whole time swapping dirty jokes!" :-D
        Although we can't predict what deep space holds in store for us, this kind of idea makes me look forward to it.

  21. honestly us reaching another planet before our own planet blows up is highly unlikely.

    • Well ya with that attitude..

      • blows up? seriously? you should be more concerned with life dying off from normal problems before you worry about earth blowing up

  22. send the religiously minded terrorist insane troublemakers there…problem solved then this way they can jihad and burka all they desire

  23. stupid idea to go there guys like come on

    • Wow, way to completely kill the mood…

  24. Life would be totally diff over there (in case there's life); They might be adapted to their kind of climate. Adapted to their kind of rotation and climatic conditions. It's not compulsory tht we would find exactly humans over there.
    Even just a mere presence of a bacterial cell would be a great thing.

  25. wow is this gonna be like pandorum where we think the ships full of aliens when were really just goin insane and find out were really not in space anymore but find out weve crash landed into the planets ocean and start a crappy civilization on a tiny island with the same technology that ruined mankind forever :P