Scientists rank the exoplanets most likely to have the rare ability to harbor life — though the chances are still pretty slim
The more we learn about the universe, the less likely it seems that Earth is the only planet with an atmosphere that’s conducive to supporting life. And the space pros from Arecibo’s Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL) at the University of Puerto Rico have in fact identified five other places in the universe that could be the next Earth, detailing in a new list what they consider to be the five most potentially inhabitable exoplanets, or worlds outside of our own solar system. Here they are, in order:
1. Gliese 581g
Topping the list is a rocky world that may not even exist. The exoplanet Gliese 581g, which is 20 light-years away and perhaps two to three times as massive as Earth, was discovered in September 2010, but its existence is a point of contention among critics, because of what was then believed to be a non-circular orbit. Still, newer findings suggest that Gliese 581g is indeed real, and is “probably nice and Earthy warm,” says Rebecca Boyle at Popular Science, inhabiting a “Goldilocks zone” that gives it roughly the same surface temperature as our planet, thanks to a desirable proximity to its own red dwarf star.
2. Gliese 667Cc
Discovered in February 2012, this massive exoplanet is at least 22 light-years away and orbits a red dwarf in the constellation Scorpius. The “super Earth” is 4.5 times larger than our planet, and completes an orbit every 28 days. Unlike our planet with its single sun, however, Gliese 667Cc resides in a triple-star system, “so the planet’s night sky would probably be a sight to behold,” says Mike Wall at Space.com.
Full list at The Week.
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