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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

New (Earth-like?) Planet Found

Vela Constellation
Credit: IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine
A new exoplanet, labelled HD85512b,  has been found in the "Goldilocks Zone" around a star in the Vela constellation.

The "Goldilocks Zone" refers to the region around a star whose distance from the star means that the temperature is in the correct range for liquid water to be present. Our own planet, of course, inhabits this zone. If we are hoping to find another Earth-like planet out there, the "Goldilocks Zone" is the place to look.

The new exoplanet, HD85512b, is thought to be slightly warmer than Earth - around 30 to 50 degrees celsius, and very humid. For it to retain liquid water on its surface, and therefore be habitable, it would need to have at least 50 % cloud cover. It is not yet known whether this is the case. However, out of the 562 exoplanets discovered so far, HD85512b appears to stand the best chance of being habitable.

arXiV: 1108.3561

Read more about the search for exoplanets