Astronomers have discovered a planet, orbiting a star some 20 light years away, which they claim is the most Earth-like yet found and so very much likely to be habitable.
A team, led by the University of California, spotted the planet, Gliese 581g, which appears to have an atmosphere, a gravity like Earth and could well be capable of life — and may contain water as well.
The new planet — a rocky world three times the size of Earth, lies in the star’s “Goldilocks zone” — the region in space where conditions are neither too hot or too cold for liquid water to form oceans, lakes and rivers.
“Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet. 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,” Prof Steven Vogt, who led the team, was quoted by the media as saying.