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A planet 20 light years away is the first outside the solar system to be officially declared habitable by European scientists.
The 'exoplanet' Gliese 581d has conditions that could support Earth-like life, including possible watery oceans and rainfall, they say.
For budding travellers, though, Gliese 581d would "still be a pretty strange place to visit", CNRS said.
"The denser air and thick clouds would keep the surface in a perpetual murky red twilight, and its large mass means surface gravity would be around double that on Earth."
Getting to the planet would still require a sci-fi breakthrough in travel for earthlings.
A spaceship travelling close to light speed would take more than 20 years to get there, while our present rocket technology would take 300,000 years.
More than 500 exoplanets orbiting other stars have been recorded since 1995, detected mostly by a tiny wobble in stellar light.
They are named after their star and listed alphabetically in order of discovery.
(A model shows the possible surface temperatures of planet Gliese 581d, located around 20 light years from Earth.)
the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere would almost certainly not be breathable by humans
ScienceDaily (May 16, 2011) — The planetary system around the red dwarf Gliese 581, one of the closest stars to the Sun in the galaxy, has been the subject of several studies aiming to detect the first potentially habitable exoplanet. Two candidates have already been discarded, but a third planet, Gliese 581d, can be considered the first confirmed exoplanet that could support Earth-like life. This is the conclusion of a team of scientists from the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (CNRS, UPMC, ENS Paris, Ecole Polytechnique) in Paris, France, whose study is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.