A planet 20 light years away is the first outside our solar system to be declared ‘habitable’ by scientists.
The rocky ‘exoplanet’ Gliese 581d meets key requirements for sustaining Earth-like life, including rainfall and possibly even watery oceans.
The planet orbits a red-dwarf star similarly called Gliese 581, on its outer fringes called the ‘Goldilocks zone’, where the temperature is not so hot that water boils away, nor so cold that water is perpetually frozen.
But even though it may be technically habitable, the Gliese 581d would not make a comfortable dwelling for humans.
Gravity is twice what is on Earth, doubling the weight of anyone standing on the surface, and the atmosphere is dense with carbon dioxide.
With a mass of at least 5.6 times that of Earth, Gliese 581d is classified as a ‘super-Earth’.
The discovery caught scientists by surprise because the planet was previously ruled out as a habitable country. read more