It's not too hot, not too cold, not too large, not too small, not too far from its star, not too close . . . . . . In short, it is perfect, should we dare say it? To harbor life! At least that's the opinion of two smart astronomers - And many others seem to agree with them.
Discovered by Paul Butler from The Carnegie Institution of Washington and Steve Vogt from U.C. Santa Cruz, the Gliese 581G lies 20 light years or about 120 trillion miles away from Earth. It is about three and a half times the size of earth, slightly wider and seems to have both gravity and atmosphere.
However, there are stll many things that we don't know about the new planet. It is much closer to its star, Gliese 581 (no G!) - about 14 million miles away as opposed to the 93 million miles that lie between the Sun and our planet. But, the scientists believe that is not a problem, because the Gliese 581 is a dwarf star and hence, not as intense as our Sun.
Thanks to the shorter distance, the Gliese 581G takes only 37 days to orbit around the sun. However, unlike Earth, it doesn't rotate fully on its own axis, which means that half of the planet gets 24-hour sunlight and is probably very hot, while the other half, is always dark and freezing.
Also not known for sure, is if the Gliese 581G has any water or if the gas its atmospthere is made up of, is capable of supporting life.
The Gliese 581G is the sixth planet that has been discovered revolving around the dwarf star Gliese 581 and, is not the first to have created this kind of excitement. Not too long ago, scientists believed that Gliese 581C was perfect to sustain life, only to later discover that is was too hot.
Will Gliese 581G finally be the Holy Grail that scientists have been searching for many years? Who knows, but it is always fun to speculate and then imagine what kind of life lives on it. Of course, to the scientists, even a single-celled amoeba is evidence of life, but we are hoping it's a little more exciting than that!