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Another Earth?!?

Courtesy: BBC News

Gliese 581 g
An artist's impression of Gliese 581g and its parent star
Astronomers have detected an Earth-like exoplanet that may have just the right kind of conditions to support life.
Gliese 581g lies some 20 light-years away in its star's "Goldilocks zone" - a region surface temperatures would allow the presence of liquid water.Scientists say that the newly found world could also potentially have an atmosphere.Their findings, made with the Keck telescope in Hawaii, appear in the Astrophysical Journal.

The researchers, from the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) and the Carnegie Institution of Washington, have been studying the movement of the planet's parent star, a red dwarf called Gliese 581, for 11 years.Their observations have revealed a number of exoplanets spinning around the star.

Gliese 581g has a mass about three to four times that of Earth. It orbits its sun in 37 days and is thought to be a rocky world. It has enough gravity to possibly have an atmosphere. Gliese 581g is located in its star's "Goldilocks zone" - a zone in space where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water.Such a zone defines the region in a star-centered orbit where an Earth-like planet could sustain that water on its surface - and therefore life. The planet's average surface temperature is estimated to be between -12C and -31C. But unlike Earth, this alien world has one side always facing its sun and the other side constantly in the dark. So in-between the two sides, between shadow and light, there could be an area where life could potentially thrive.

Now, astronomers are hoping to spot more exoplanets where life could be possible. "There could be tens of billions of these systems in our galaxy."