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Extrasolar planet Gliese 581c

Extrasolar planet Gliese 581c

R650/0284

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Credit

EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption

Extrasolar planet Gliese 581c, artwork. This is the most Earthlike alien planet yet discovered. It is just 1.5 times Earth's diameter and five times its mass, and it lies in the star's habitable zone. This is a region around a star where the surface temperature of a planet is suitable for liquid water. Gliese 581c is just 11 million kilometres from its star (fourteen times closer than Earth is to the Sun), but the low heat output of the red dwarf Gliese 581 (upper right) makes its habitable zone much closer to it than the Sun's. Gliese 581 lies about 20.5 light years from Earth in he constellation Libra. The discovery was announced on 24th April 2007 by observers at the European Southern Observatory's 3.6 metre telescope at La Silla, Chile.

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