Ideal planet discovered 20 light-years away.

Astronomers have found an Earth-like planet that they believe can support life. The newly discovered exoplanet Gliese 581gdubbed Planet G, exists in the Gliese 581 system and is believed to be the right size and location for life according to a press release and webcast from the National Science Foundation.

Part of a six-member family of planets, this particular exoplanet is situated in the middle of the system's habitable region.  Scientists believe the temperatures at this position would be ideal for sustaining liquid water on the planet's surface.

"The planet has to be the right distance from the star so it's not too hot and not too cold that liquid water can exist," said Paul Butler, a staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "And then the planet has to have the right surface gravity."

While similar to Earth, Planet G has very distinct differences. 

This world is tidally locked to its red dwarf sun and doesn't have days and nights.  Half  of the planet is perpetually drenched in sunlight while the other side is draped in darkness.

"Any emerging life forms would have a wide range of stable climates to choose from and to evolve around, depending on their longitude," said Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz.

Although it has not yet been determined whether or not water exists on the planet,  scientists are one hundred percent certain that Planet G can support life.

"Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent.  I have almost no doubt about it,"Vogt said.

An article on this research can be found in this week's Astrophysical Journal.

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