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  Earth-Like Planet Can Sustain Life
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Last EditedRP  Sep 29, 2010 07:11pm
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AuthorIrene Klotz
News DateThursday, September 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionA new member in a family of planets circling a red dwarf star 20 light-years away has just been found. It's called Gliese 581g, and the 'g' may very well stand for Goldilocks.

Gliese 581g is the first world discovered beyond Earth that's the right size and location for life.

"Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say that the chances for life on this planet are 100 percent. I have almost no doubt about it," Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at University of California Santa Cruz, told Discovery News.

Planet G -- the sixth member in Gliese 581's family -- orbits right in the middle of that system's habitable region, where temperatures would be suitable for liquid water to pool on the planet's surface.

With a mass three times larger than Earth's, the newly discovered world has the muscle to hold atmosphere. Plus, it has the gift of time. Not only is its parent star especially long-lived, the planet is tidally locked to its sun -- similar to how the moon keeps the same side pointed at Earth -- so that half the world is in perpetual light and the other half in permanent darkness. As a result, temperatures are extremely stable and diverse.
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