Researchers have recently identified a planet they say is in the “habitable zone” around its star—a planet at the right distance from its star to have liquid water on the surface. Dubbed Gliese 581g, it orbits around the Red Dwarf star Gliese 581, which is about 20 light-years from Earth. The planet is about 3–4 times the mass of Earth (estimated to be 1.1–1.7 times Earth’s gravity) and is about 0.15 AU from Gliese 581, which is said to be within the estimated habitable zone for planets around Gliese 581.
This discovery has been paraded in the media as proof of life elsewhere in the universe. However, the media is not the source of the sensationalism. The massive publicity around the discovery of Gliese 581g stems from the comments of Steve Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lead researcher for this discovery. He said:….
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