Life on other planets?

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By Matt Wahl

According to the Astrophysics Journal, scientists at the University of California Santa Cruz believe they have found the first truly habitable Earth-like planet located outside of our solar system.

The planet, which is orbiting around the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 581, is located only twenty light-years away from Earth, a relatively small distance considering the fact that the entire universe is about 156 BILLION light-years wide.

Steven Vogt, a professor at UCSC who is partially credited with discovering this planet, stated that his “own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent.” The planet, named Gliese 581g, was found within the habitable or “Goldilocks zone” surrounding the star, which is located in the Libra constellation.

The area is known as the “Goldilocks zone” because it is not too hot and not too cold to potentially allow for sustainable life—you could say it’s “just right,” to quote a familiar fairy tale.

Gliese 581g is nearly three times the mass of the Earth and is tidally locked in orbit, meaning that it does not rotate as it revolves around its “sun.” This creates an odd situation for the planet, as half of the rock is always in the shade, while the rest is perpetually shone upon.

So what does this mean for Earth? Most likely not an alien attack. Definitely some interesting implications for humans, including a potential new place to live in the event that we run out of resources.

For now, only time will tell what the future will bring and whether communication or cohabitation will one day be a possibility.

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