“Earth-Like” planet found

I feel like adding a question mark to the title, though.

The upshot is that a planet, about five times as massive as the earth, has been found orbiting Gliese 581, a red dwarf star about 20 light-years from our solar system in the constellation of Libra.  According to this article in the LA Times, a team of Swiss, French and Portuguese scientists estimate that it’s surface temperature is somewhere between freezing and 104 degrees Fahrenheit (0 and 40 degrees Celsius).

However, there is a lot still unknown about the planet. Despite his exuberance about the discovery, Geoffrey Marcy at U.C. Berkeley cautions about reading too much into the discovery. Eugene Chiang (also at U.C. Berkeley) points out that we don’t know the composition of the planet, that there is no proof that it is rocky, and we don’t know what the atmosphere is like.

The newly discovered planet is closer to its star than Mercury is to our sun, but since Gliese 581 is a red dwarf star, it is much cooler.

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