posted on Apr, 24 2007 @ 05:28 PM
In a finding that if confirmed could stand as a landmark in history, astronomers have reported discovering the most Earth-like
planet outside our Solar System to date: a world that may have liquid oceans and thus life.
Swiss, French and Portuguese scientists found the body, estimated as 50 percent wider than our Earth, orbiting a so-called red
dwarf star relatively close to Earth. The star is thought to harbor two other planets also.
Artist's concept of a red dwarf, a dim star that burns slowly and very long. (Courtesy NASA)
The newfound exoplanet—as astronomers call planets around stars other than the Sun—would be the smallest such body ever
Nonetheless, the object is estimated to weigh as much as five Earths, partly thanks to its greater width. For the same reason, it
would have more than twice Earth’s surface area. Historically, only large exoplanets lend themselves to human detection,
though that is changing.
Eventually astronomers will rack up discoveries of dozens, maybe even hundreds of planets considered habitable, the astronomers said. But this one -
simply called "c" by its discoverers when they talk among themselves - will go down in cosmic history as No. 1.
[edit on 24/4/2007 by rai76]