Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Earth-Like Planet Corot-7b Found Outside Solar System

Astronomers have confirmed that a planet orbiting a distant star has a rocky structure similar to that of Earth, a find that shortens the odds on extraterrestrial life being discovered.

New observations of a planet named Corot-7b, which circles a star 500 light years away in the constellation Monoceros, or the Unicorn, have shown that its density is similar to the Earth’s, indicating that it is also a solid, rocky world.

The discovery is important for the prospects of discovering life elsewhere because Corot-7b is the first exoplanet — a planet beyond our solar system — orbiting another star that has been found to have the sort of solid structure that might harbour living things.

Although it is unlikely that the planet itself could be home to living organisms because it is so hot — it is so close to its parent star that scientists have likened it to Dante’s Inferno — the new research suggests that other rocky worlds are probably common.

The odds against there being extra-terrestrial life just went down, again !

Plus now, since we are finding that most stars have planets and that there are rocky, earth-sized ones, the famous Drake equation, dealing with potential numbers of technological civilisations, needs to be reconsidered.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, September 23rd, 2009.]

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