A Planet ‘Just Right’ for Life? Perhaps, if It Exists

A Planet ‘Just Right’ for Life? Perhaps, if It Exists

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What ever happened to the Goldilocks planet? It was big news back in September 2010 when a group led by Steven S. Vogt of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and R. Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution for Science said they had discovered a small planet circling a small red star in the constellation Libra, at a distance smack in the middle of the so-called Goldilocks zone — that “just right” region where water on the surface is possible.

If confirmed, Gliese 581g, as it is known, would be the first known exoplanet — that is, a planet outside our own solar system — that could support life. But within weeks, a group of exoplanet astronomers based at the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland under the leadership of Michel Mayor said they could not find the planet in their own extensive data on the star.

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