The research, published in a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, suggests that the planet could contain liquid water on its surface, meaning it tops the league of planets and moons rated as being most like Earth, they said.
"Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet said Vogt," said lead researcher Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California.
"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," Vogt said. The new findings are based on 11 years of observations of the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 581. The team reported the discovery of two new planets around Gliese 581.
The Gliese star system is only 20 light years from earth. We need to examine every system close to our Sun to determine how many other planets are in the habitable zones.
In the last decade it has become obvious that planets are very common whereas it was previously thought they were uncommon. This VASTLY increases the likelihood of life existing elsewhere in the known universe. Consequently this also increases the probability that intelligent life exists in the Milky Way according to the Drake equation.
These recent discoveries add to the mountain of data we have from UFO reports indicating that some sightings could represent extra terrestial visitation.
The Skeptics on the issue of UFOs are absolutely wrong in their analysis of the data. Official studies into the sighting reports actually confirm that a significant percentage represent real and unique phenomena (ie UFOs). If you actually read the linchpin "UFO debunking" Condon Report you will find that the body of this scientific study is in direct contradiction to the report's negative concluding sections.
And note: It has been reported that the issue of UFOs is classified higher than the US Atomic program. Indeed, there is strong evidence to suggest that the US Air Force and other elements of the US National Security State (inc CIA) have been helping to hide and ridicule the idea of UFOs being real.
Please remember, we are dealing with a highly classified subject here. Some commentators have recently pointed to previously classified documents that show the CIA, during the cold war, planned to push the idea of a UFO menace as psyche warfare to keep the population living in fear - and that this was done whilst the authors acknowledged the fictitious nature of the phenomena. UFO reports, and belief in them, in this light, are seen as being fueled by intelligence agency propagandists.
However, this situation does not ipso facto debunk the sighting reports themselves and is likely to be an example of how the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing when it comes to highly classified projects. The cited psyche warfare document provides a great cover story and should have been encouraged by those inside the loop: "Oh, all that UFO stuff ? It was just something cooked up and/or encouraged by our propaganda people. Everyone knows that UFOs are a great modern myth and there is no hard evidence to suggest otherwise."
[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, December 8th, 2011.]