OK Hubble Huggers, I'm back, feeling better about blogs than I ever have. Yeah, it's disposable information, but why not share stuff that's cool, right? RIGHT? Is anyone even listening? Forget what I said, blogs suck. But regardless, here's some great news from the universe, I'll be posting more releases as I get them. When you want information, make it primary source baby, all the way. Yours in the stars, David
Astronomers Find First Habitable Earth-like Planet
Astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet outside our
Solar System to date, an exoplanet with a radius only 50% larger than the Earth and possibly having liquid water on its surface. Using the ESO 3.6-m telescope, a team of Swiss, French and Portuguese scientists discovered a super-Earth about 5 times the mass of the
Earth that orbits a red dwarf, already known to harbour a Neptune-
mass planet. The astronomers have also strong evidence for the
presence of a third planet with a mass about 8 Earth masses.
This exoplanet - as astronomers call planets around a star other than
the Sun – is the smallest ever found up to now  and it completes
a full orbit in 13 days. It is 14 times closer to its star than the
Earth is from the Sun. However, given that its host star, the red
dwarf Gliese 581 , is smaller and colder than the Sun – and thus
less luminous – the planet nevertheless lies in the habitable zone,
the region around a star where water could be liquid!
“We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth
lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be
liquid,” explains Stéphane Udry, from the Geneva Observatory
(Switzerland) and lead-author of the paper reporting the result.
“Moreover, its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth’s radius,
and models predict that the planet should be either rocky – like our
Earth – or covered with oceans,” he adds.
This research is reported in a paper submitted as a Letter to the
Editor of Astronomy and Astrophysics (“The HARPS search for southern
extra-solar planets : XI. An habitable super-Earth (5 MEarth) in a 3-
planet system”, by S. Udry et al.)
The team is composed of Stéphane Udry, Michel Mayor, Christophe
Lovis, Francesco Pepe, and Didier Queloz (Geneva Observatory,
Switzerland), Xavier Bonfils (Lisbonne Observatory, Portugal), Xavier
Delfosse, Thierry Forveille, and C.Perrier (LAOG, Grenoble, France),
François Bouchy (Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, France), and Jean-
Luc Bertaux (Service d'Aéronomie du CNRS, France)