Earth-Like Planet Discovery Buoys Search for Life

A new chapter in the search for life beyond Earth opened this week…

exoplanet-atmos-zoom-websmA new chapter in the search for life beyond Earth opened this week with the discovery of the first rocky world well positioned around its parent star to hold pools of water, an environment believed to be necessary for life.

Due to an unfortunate viewing angle, scientists can’t determine if this particular planet, known as Gliese 581 g, is indeed endowed, but they don’t expect to have to wait too long to find similar worlds that can be probed.

The key is finding planets that pass in front of their parent stars, relative to Earth’s line of sight. By tracking the minute changes in the light as the planet circles in front of, and then behind, its star, scientists can ferret out which tiny bit of radiation is coming from the planet amidst the huge amount of light streaming from the star.

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Source: Discovery News
Photo: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)