EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Gliese 581 star. This red dwarf star (centre) has been found to have the most Earthlike planet yet discovered in orbit around it. The planet (not seen) is called Gliese 581c. 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 star makes its habitable zone much closer to it than the Sun's. Gliese 581 lies about 20.5 light years from Earth in the constellation Libra. See R650/284 for an artwork of the planet.
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