An exoplanet which could harbour life

The planets circling the star Gliese 581 have been candidates for life for some time now.

Gliese 581d has now been confirmed as the first planet outside our solar system to meet key requirements for sustaining life.

Modelling of planet Gliese 581d shows it has the potential to be warm and wet enough to nurture Earth-like life. It orbits the red dwarf star Gliese 581, located about 20 light years from Earth, which makes it one of our closest neighbours.

Gliese 581d orbits on the outer fringes of the star’s “Goldilocks zone,” where it is not so hot that water boils away, nor so cold that water is perpetually frozen. Instead, the temperature is just right for water to exist in liquid form.

With a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere – a likely scenario on such a large planet – the climate of Gliese 581d is not only stable against collapse but warm enough to have oceans, clouds and rainfall. Read more here.

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