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A newly discovered exoplanet may support life ... but don't pack your bags yet

20 light years from Earth slumbers the red dwarf star Gliese 581.  Today a team of astronomers announced an astonishing discovery-- the star has a planet which is potentially habitable by humanity.

Over 200 so-called "exoplanets" -- planets outside our own solar system -- have already been found.  But so far, all of them have suffered from the "goldilocks problem," either too hot, too cold, or far too massive to support life.

But the new planet, which so far is only being called "c," is different.  It has an atmosphere, liquid water, a surface temperature estimated to range from 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is roughly five times as massive as the earth but, due to a larger diameter, has a surface gravity only1.6 times that the Earth's.   It's also much closer to its parent star, having a 'year' only 13 days long.  The view from the surface would be spectacular, with the planet's sun appearing in the sky some 20 times larger than does our moon.

"On the treasure map of the Universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X", says report co-author Xavier Delfosse of Grenoble University. "Liquid water is critical to life as we know it.  Because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of future space missions dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life."

The team examined 100 different stars using the HARPS planet searcher at the European Southern Observatory in the Chilean Alps.

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RE: yup
By masher2 on 4/25/2007 3:02:53 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, quantum teleportation doesn't actually move matter (or even energy)'re really only moving information...the quantum state of a particular system. And even that is limited to speed-of-light considerations.

RE: yup
By PrezWeezy on 4/25/2007 6:44:27 PM , Rating: 2
You are right...for now. But it's an advance. He said there was no point in thinking about it and I was simply stating that "Beam me up, Scotty" may exist in the forseable future. And if it did, we could certainly move from planet to planet much faster.

RE: yup
By Ramshambo on 4/26/2007 12:06:51 PM , Rating: 2
If you are able to transmit data at the speed of light, wouldn't that be something that could be used for interstellar communications? Or do radio waves already move that fast? Kinda interesting actually. And yeah I know, if it were to travel at the speed of light it would take 20 years to get there.

RE: yup
By Kuroyama on 4/26/2007 8:36:50 PM , Rating: 2
Radio waves, visible light, microwaves, X-rays, etc. are all forms of electromagnetic radiation and should all travel at the same speed through a vacuum.

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