An Earth-like planet recently spotted outside our solar system is the first that atromomers have found that could support liquid water and harbor life.
Liquid water is what astronomers look for, and the newly found planet is located at the perfect distance from its sun---just the right distance so that the water on its surface doesn't freeze or vaporize.
The new planet is about 50% bigger than Earth and about five times more massive. It's called Gliese 581 C, after its star, Gliese 581, a small red dwarf star that is about one-third as massive as the Sun.
In Space.com, Ker Than quotes astronomer Stephane Udry, of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland, as saying, ""The goal is to find life on a planet like the Earth around a star like the Sun. This is a step in that direction (and) each time you go one step forward you are very happy."
Than quotes astrophysicist David Charbonneau as saying that the new finding is an "absolutely fantastic discovery. It means there probably are many more such planets out there."
Than quotes French astronomer Xavier Delfosse as saying, "On the treasure map of the universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X."
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