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03 February 2012

Exoplanets: Not to hot, not to cold. the Goldilock zone!

Image courtesy: Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Carnegie Institution.
Not to hot, not to cold. the Goldilock zone!
A team of scientists has discovered a planet lying in the "goldilock" zone of it's parent Star.
the goldilock zone is the region around a star where a planet with sufficient atmospheric pressure can maintain liquid water on its surface.

The planet, GJ 667Cc, has an orbital period of about 28 days and with a mass about 4.5 times that of the Earth. The star that it orbits is quite interesting. It is an M-class dwarf star and is a member of a triple star system and appears to be quite different from our Sun, relatively lacking in metallic elements.
The team said this discovery demonstrates that habitable planets could form in a greater variety of environments than previously believed.
“This was expected to be a rather unlikely star to host planets,” said Steven Vogt from UC Santa Cruz, one of the scientists involved in the discovery. “Yet there they are, around a very nearby, metal-poor example of the most common type of star in our galaxy. The detection of this planet, this nearby and this soon, implies that our galaxy must be teeming with billions of potentially habitable rocky planets.”

“This planet is the new best candidate to support liquid water and, perhaps, life as we know it,” said Guillem Anglada-Escudé, from the University of Gottingen in Germany. He was with the Carnegie Institute for Science when the planet was first discovered.

READ Nancy Atkinson's article on Universe today HERE
wikiinfo: Goldilock zone (The habitable zone) 
An example of a system, based on stellar luminosity for predicting the location of the habitable zone around types of stars