Friday, July 20, 2012
Astronomers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington believe they have discovered a planet right at Earth's front door that may be capable of supporting human life. The planet is 22 light years away, previously thought to be 20 light years, and is formally known as Gliese 581g, but lead researcher Professor Steven Vogt told News.com.au that he has since named it after his wife. "I called it 'Zarmina's world'. It's not just in our backyard, it's right in our face," Professor Vogt said. The study, which was released to News.com.au this week, showed that the planet was twice the size of earth. It is known as a "super Earth" due to its ability to hold on to its gassy atmosphere, which increases its chances of retaining liquid. Whether this liquid is frozen and stored under the surface or flowing freely across the planet, the researchers can't say. The scientist from the University of California said that the planet has "churchly weather" similar to what we experience in Australia. "From the energy bounds and brightness of the star we can tell that the temperatures would be just about right to stand on the surface and feel the warmth of the alien star on your face, like standing in the park in Sydney," he explained. However the researchers were unable to determine what the surface of the planet is like, Professor Vogt said.