Gliese 581g – A Earth like planet discovered by Astronomers

Posted by JohnD on Sep 30, 2010 | 64 Comments

Astronomers have discovered a planet of similar size to Earth in orbit around a nearby star called Gliese 581g, which is located in prime real estate within the constellation Libra.

The discovery of the most Earth-like planet with about three times the Earth’s mass orbiting the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 581g has been announced by the astronomers. The planet lies in the star’s ‘Goldilocks zone’, the region where liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface. In cosmic terms, the new planet is virtually our next-door neighbor. It circles a dim red star, Gliese 581 that’s only 20 light-years away. It also appears to have an atmosphere, gravity like our own and could well be capable of life.

Gliese 581g

This new planet takes 37 days to orbit the star once, and orbits at a distance about 1/6 the distance of the Earth from the Sun. The researchers will report in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal that Gliese 581g contains only about 30% of the sun’s mass and shines with only about 1% of its brightness.


Professor Steven Vogt said, “Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet.” He added, “The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common.”

The Gliese 581g planet is tidally locked to the star, means that one side is always facing the star and basking in perpetual daylight, while the side facing away from the star is in perpetual darkness. The average surface temperature of the planet estimated by researchers is between -24 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-31 to -12 degrees Celsius). Real temperatures would vary from blazing hot on the side facing the star to freezing cold on the dark side. Prof Vogt said, “The surface gravity would be about the same or slightly higher than Earth’s, so that a person could easily walk upright on the planet,” “It may well be like Earth, where you could walk around comfortably and look out at the stars.”

There is no evidence that Gliese 581g holds oxygenated landscapes of green and blue that would support microbes, dinosaurs or some alien-looking pre-human, said by the Scientists. The conclusions result from 11 years of observations at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, where old-fashioned telescopes and advanced math are leading the exoplanet search.

Steven Vogt of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) and Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington team led the discovery. UCSC associate research scientist Eugenio Rivera, Gregory Henry and Michael Williamson of Tennessee State University are other team members. Vog said, “The number of systems with potentially habitable planets is probably on the order of 10 or 20 percent, and when you multiply that by the hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way, that’s a large number. There could be tens of billions of these systems in our galaxy.”

Video of New Planet: Another Earth discovered by scientists? from youtube:

Video of New Planet Found – Gliese 581 c – VOA Story from youtube:

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  1. Dino says:

    i strongly believe that there is human like nature living in an unknown planet which i believe one day sciencetist must discover them.

  2. aryan says:

    i strongly believe that there is human like nature living in an unknown planet which i believe one day sciencetist must discover them.

  3. meera says:

    look if there is ever life on this so called planet “goldilocks” and hopefully the president reads this look president i think we should make the things by the natural things aorund us like wind powered cars or use wind to get water but lets not pollute wat we have found

  4. robert says:

    We are Humans and we fined a New planet that is like Earth.
    This is bigger than going to the moon. If there is something like us out there we human needs to do the first move.I know it’s a long way to get there but we have all the technology all we need to do is put all the technology in one. Like jet engine and it needs oxygen we need to build a top oxygen for the engine on earth the engine can go faster than sound so it will go faster in space.So if we build a ship for this engine I think it’s a good idea to test this new ship with a cargo ship without any human and full it with supplies so time it get there we can build 2nd ship to go there and so when we get the supplies are there.
    I hope its not going to be years getting to this “Goldilocks Planet”
    Thank you I hope this is not to much Reply

  5. Amber says:

    This is an amazing new and it’s a great example of the human capacity, there’s no doubt that in a few years, no matter if is in 100 or 1000 years we will be able to live in another planet, so congratulations to all researchers that have been working on this wonderful project, they deserve ADMIRATION.

  6. Michelle says:

    the fact that its in title lock does not bode to well for the idea of life. even though temps are in the range the fact that only one side gets sun means major temp diff. it could be that one side is all ice ( if h20 is on it ) and one side has none. this only leaves the twilight areas with the best chance for life. that means less the 10% of the planet. one can hope though

  7. nijam says:

    Comparing a revolution of 365 days to that of 37 days, is like comparing a new born to a 9yrs old. Would it not reduce our life expectancy? Just curious on how fast it take to complete a revolution, and is impact on humans.

  8. Samntha says:

    Just for clarification, I don’t think 581g is referred to as THE goldilocks planet. Rather, it is A goldilocks planet and there may be other goldilocks planets that are ‘just right’ to support life as we know it. At least, that is my understanding.

    Not trying to be rude, just clarifying for myself really. Am I right or wrong?

  9. Gail says:

    Life and vegetation already exist in our solar system, Mars has a breathable atmosphere and all pictures have been smudged even on Google Earth where you can choose to view Earth, Sky, Moon, Mars.

    There are actual cities and buildings. That’s the reason for so much focus on it, the moons of other outer planets have polar caps too why not focus on them.

    The real conspiracy is not by people but by government, all Mars images are modified with layers of smudging overlaying the original image and a sepia/red shading to make it look lifeless.

    Our job as wise and knowledgeable human beings is to learn and question everything for ourselves not accept what is being given, that’s when we are no longer using our intellect but accepting some common fabrication for the masses.

  10. Dominic says:

    “Mamy worlds like this one have I created. They are not numbered unto man. They are as the sands of the sea but they are all numbered unto Me.”

  11. Anna says:

    So, we don’t know whether this place has breathable air and we don’t know if there’s any water, but it’s deemed “habitable”?

  12. james says:

    Well, it looks like the new planet may be just a perfect place for the Tea Baggers. I’m thinking that there probably is little or no government; most likely no taxes. They would even be able to see their own doctors.

  13. truna says:

    Gliese 581g, as has not previously been reported, is currently tied up in foreclosure proceedings. Although it is still not clear who actually holds the paper on Gliese 581g, Ally Financial appears to have handled the proceedings most recently, leading to speculation that the legalities may in fact have just been put on hold. Further, exhaustive research has led at least one speculator to point out that Congress has no reporting requirements for property only visible through doppler shifts, and Charlie Rangel was recently observed wearing a “Gliese 581g Chamber of Commerce” t-shirt.

  14. kajal says:

    Earth is a special place and finding another won’t be so easy. Terra and Luna form a binary planet at a felicitous distance from a well behaved star. When counting your blessings, don’t forget the bonanza of living here on this world of wonders.

  15. amit says:

    Well, if they ultimately detect two moons orbiting Gliese and the presence of sandworms beneath the surface we’ll have at least determined that Herbert’s dreams weren’t all spice-induced nightmares.

  16. surya says:

    yellojkt, there are many musings available about the Moon. It and the the Earth are the only binary planets that we know of and the only home of sentient or, at least semi-sentient beings. Whether that is coincidence or not is unknown. My own Buddhist beliefs state that life will arise at every place it is possible to arise but the evolutionary path to consciousness is not so easy.

  17. suman says:

    Garage has been de-water’ed. Something like 140 gallons. Drain cleared. I can sense that I need to get back to work based on unusual Doppler shift of laptop.

  18. purva says:

    Perhaps our Goldilockian Overlords visited earth many hundreds of thousands of years ago, which now explains the presence of blonds among the human species.

    Now, if we only figure out where redheads came from.

    Although the article did say that Geek 581 was a red dwarf.

  19. akashi says:

    If Iceland and Alaska around the summer solstice are anything to go by Gliese 581g must be quite the party place. Happy hour at all hours.

  20. Marvin says:

    We never did see what happened to Earth after Martin Landau and Barbara Bain stole the Moon away back in 1999. Perhaps we lived, perhaps we didn’t. Seems like a pretty unknowable hypothesis.

  21. rickin says:

    …the importance of the moon to the earth Tim… how about it takes the hits from most of the real heavy crap flying around in belts, orbits, and clouds out there, balances the rotation of gravitational, magnetic, and electrical fields so WE don’t fly off somewhere over the…oh, that’s right without the moon there would be nothing for the cow to jump over, not to mention all the cwazy wepublicans, wayward, whino’s, and Independents who (‘tho not crazy, just unpredictable) are going to Right the Ship, adrift Right now, and send a lot of De……rats scurrying Right back to the land of fun-employment, and they would have nothing to blame such lunacy on. Ha Ha.

  22. ruka says:

    …sometimes I feel like the liberal guy Rush Lamebaugh praises on his show for getting it Right, and then has to go back to where he lives and works, wondering if he will ever be invited to dinner at his ‘friends’ parties again.

  23. milley says:

    I hear that famous pollster Dean Wormer has the latest percent chance that Paladino will win the NY governorship.

    Dean Wormer: zero point zero.

    I only wish that I had a year or two to work on my a hole bona fides. I coulda been a tea party star.

  24. dinesh says:

    “Gliese 581g: the most Earth like planet yet discovered”

    Awesome, now we need Saint Obama to properly fund NASA.

    I hope to retire to Gliese 581g some day………

  25. dipak says:

    Is it worth trying to signal to it with some sort of radio transmission? We’d get an answer back in 40 years or so if someone’s listening!
    Any radio transmission experts out there who’d know more about the possibility of this?
    I don’t think an iphone’s up to the job unfortunately…..

  26. dixa says:

    If it’s ihabited AND they are at the same level of technology (or more advanced) they’ve had many years of being able to “see” us, as we’ve been emiting radio signals…. So, unless the Govt’s of the world have been hiding all knowledge of E.T. (which I wouldn’t discount) I’d say they’ve not communicated directly (or can’t) OR being intelligent, decided to do a little recce before announcing their presence/existence.

    Reasoning – Take a look at the last 100 years of Mankind’s history, would YOU want to say “hello” to such a barbaric, self destructive and growing population ?

  27. bebo says:

    Perhaps we should remember, during our speculations about the existence of life on planets in the “habitable zone” (i.e. liquid water can exist on the planet), that liquid water may be a necessary condition for the existence of carbon based life like us, but it is not a sufficient condition!

  28. vaghela says:

    I think you can rephrase it to “Earth bacterial life could survive on that planet if we drop a bucket in a puddle out there.”

    It does not mean that life actually started out there.

  29. kent says:

    People confuse “habitable” with “inhabitated” and with “habitable by humans”.

    So to clarify.
    “Habitable” means it doesn’t have show-stoppers for life, and in a more narrow sense, doesn’t have show-stoppers for life-as-we-know-it, meaning anything vaguely similar to what we see on Earth. This is generally taken as “can support liquid water on the surface”, while acknowledging that yes, there could be other types of chemistries and life that are not water-based. To me, higher magnetic fields than we’re used to, for example, do not make a planet non-habitable.

    “Inhabited” means that life developed there.

    “habitable by humans” means that you survive on the surface with reasonable means of protection.

    The “100%” quote was about habitability, the first criteria, not the other two. Nobody knows if there is life there. Nobody knows if the conditions are good enough for people to survive on it. What they said is that they know for sure it is a rocky planet with the right temperature range, which means there’s water on the surface. The tidally locked situation just makes it different than Earth, but in no way uninhabitable.

  30. john says:

    Eh well, his hypothesis is that there is a 100% chance of life. I fully endorse investigation! When will we get spectra of the atmosphere? I’m surprised that hasn’t been done already..

  31. ravinder says:

    Those with Twitter I highly recommend tweeting this article all over the place to combat the over-the-deep-end reactions.

  32. rishika says:

    Do we have the technology to send a spacecraft 40 LY and still function autonomously to enter Gliesian orbit and beam images back to earth? Will we ever consider such a mission to a super-promissing spectrally-suggestive-of-life planet? Would you support such a mission even if you would not see the results in your lifetime? I think I would.

  33. rachna says:

    I think that the term “habitable zone” is a misnomer because we have evidence from our solar system that there are 3 planets in this zone, but only one which supports life. As people have mentioned, there are many things that could prevent life from forming – no atmosphere, no water, too much atmosphere, poison in the atmosphere, too hot, too cold, etc… Seems like a huge stretch to say that just because a planet is located in the habitable zone means that it harbours life. Not to mention the fact that each planet system we find destroys all of our models for planetary formation and this planet may be in a form that we haven’t even considered yet.

  34. deep says:

    One very interesting calculation made by the team that found this planet concerns the likely number of such planets that may exist. In particular, the number of stars that have been examined using the precision radial velocity techniques used by this team is on the order of a few dozen, less than half of which might be expected to have favorable ecliptic inclinations and stellar radiance stability to allow these techniques to work. For a “Goldilocks” planet to have been found soon soon suggests that 10% or so of stars may harbor such planets, for a whopping 10 or 20 billion habitable worlds in our Milky Way Galaxy!

    Of course, lacking any feasible means of traveling beyond the reaches of our own Solar System, this would appear to be of theoretical interest only….

  35. jack says:

    Please keep this report from public view. We don’t want the teabagger to know. They will Fup that planet too if they know about it.

  36. jay says:

    Leave it alone, If we do find life on it i dont want to be known as the first planet to wage intergalactic war. And I’m pretty sure we all agree that according to history, when we find something new, we kill it if it isnt like us. So leave the planet alone. That way, if there is somebody that is mroe advanced than us, and is already watching, we will not look like satanic beings. We may actually get a good rep from leaving this planet alone, much like columbus should have done

  37. varun says:

    A tidally locked planet in close orbit around a red dwarf supporting life? Seems kind of far fetched.

    I think we should wait for the results from Kepler before popping the champagne corks. My guess is that there will be plenty of earthlike planets orbiting in the habitable zones of G type suns, and that they will be announced over the next three years. I think these guys wanted to scoop them.

  38. kiran says:

    It’s very exciting that we are so close to the dream of lives on other planets but one must wonder at the comment

    “Finding a planet that could potentially support life is a major step toward answering the timeless question: Are we alone?” Why do we keep assuming that other life forms need environments exactly like ours?

    It has been great the last week charting the movements of Jupiter and her moons, good times looking through the 10″ DOBster.

  39. piya says:

    I doubt whether our aggressive, murderous, violent and warlike natures are duplicated very often on other worlds. They certainly aren’t on planet earth.

    I also doubt whether any civilization advanced enough to conquer this planet would have any interest in it.

  40. krisha says:

    A new life awaits you in the Off-World colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure…New climate, recreational facilities…absolutely free. Use your new friend as a personal body servant or a tireless field hand — the custom tailored genetically engineered humanoid replicant designed especially for your needs. So come on America, let’s put our team up there…

  41. abhishek says:

    Piglet were going to need to see your permit and papers.. doh I forgot your an illegal. FEEL free to take advantage of our free housing and healthcare of the local tax payers backs who are all unemployed.. So very sorry to bother you and those guns and drugs in your back pack.. well I will pretend I didn’t see those. Feel free to move along. Oh I almost forgot, here is a $5000 grant for making it here.

  42. gauti says:

    so is it a red dwarf……..or a red giant?

    if its a red giant then that could explain them trying to reach out and send signals to us …….for help! its a much bigger plant than ours, that’s all we need is a few billion ET’S coming here ( if they have the tech) as refugee’s taking over the jobs of the lazy earthlings and how quick would the government be to give them fre housing and teaching their religions and language in school’s??

    Or maybe the UFO’S of the past 100 yrs or so are from this planet? and they have been scoping out the possibility of taking us over, checking out our military capabilities and testing our atmosphere etc……..if their plant is dying, that would make sense………survival of the fittest!!

    or maybe………its a world full of naked amazon type warrior women, who want to come here to take the men form this world to help repopulate their dying world……..i would go???

    maybe,maybe,maybe………………………we will never know……?

  43. babita says:

    One thing I would like to point about the Gliese 581 -system is that because it has possibly three planets capable of sustaining life (at least after terraforming) and because they could be habitable for dozens of billions of years, it’s a likely place where an interstellar civilization evolved on similar conditions as on Earth would likely to be drawn. Prime estate. So, if there is an old enough civilization capable of interstellar flight in our neighbourhood, let’s say one that has had that capability a few thousand years at least, then they would have a presence in this system. If there would not be any evidence of not only life, but technological civilization in the system, then that could well tell us that it’s unlikely that there are any civilizations in Sol’s near neighbourhood that would be significantly more advanced than us.

  44. cathy says:

    Let’s start beaming broadcasts directly to this planet and welcome them to Earth.

    I’m sure the inhabitants are friendly, right?

  45. astha says:

    dat’s really unbelievable dat they discovered a new planet!!! Can humans live there? i know not now but maybe later on in the future if they do more scientific research and gather more information. maybe it will save the earth from being overpopulated so dat some people can live there one day.

    Hot debate. What do you think

  46. jahanvi says:

    This is so fascinating. If life is one the planet, i would be curious to know about the way they live, what they believe about the world around them, and how far advanced their technology is. But that’s a big IF. A humongous, gigantic, sun-sized IF.

  47. Orhan says:

    This is actually very fascinating. Just like the time they discovered Gliese 581 c, and said it was capable of containing life. Then Gliese 581 d was a “better candidate” for life. Now we have Gliese 581 g, and still said that it may be yet again, another candidate for life. This always happens, when it’s about the Gliese 581 System.

  48. Rayon says:

    I never had any doubt. The Drake equation should now use something larger than 1% for stars that have planets in the habitable zone. Perhaps greater than 10% – possibly much higher. If after really looking carefully at one star within 9 that have been studied to any degree out of the 117 stars 20 light years or closer, what does that say for the odds of there being plenty more potentially habitable planets (for life as we know it)? And, I’ve always have been of the opinion that red dwarfs are the place to look – because they represent 76.5% of ALL main sequence stars in our galaxy. That’s just too high a percentage to not start with carefully observing them. My money is on the bet that a huge % of stars have earth-like planets in the Goldilocks zone with liquid water on them. Detecting life on them is only a few years away at most (via metabolism by-products)… Unless that life decides to contact us first!

  49. boby says:

    Upon landing on this newly discovered planet the human astronaut is greeted by a group of little green men. They approach and jesture what seems to be a greeting. The astronauts i phone equipped with a universal translator begins to buzz. He checks it and the message he reads is as follows: ” If we had middle fingers we’d give you the greeting you deserve!”

  50. atul says:

    Full disclosure is on its way, people. The US political machine will reveal the existence of technologically advanced humanoid life forms visiting and living here on Gaia for thousands of years. A New World Order is about to be realized.

    It’s about time.

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