Planet Declared As 100% Likely To Have Life... Now Can't Even Be Found

from the oops dept

You may recall a few weeks ago, we wrote about the discovery of the first "potentially life-sustaining planet" outside of our solar system, which got some astronomers so excited that one declared the chance of life on the planet to be 100%. Of course, he may want to adjust his optimism a bit downwards as Slashdot points us to the news that another group of astronomers are saying they can't find any trace of the planet:
But at this week's Astrophysics of Planetary Systems meeting, astronomer Francesco Pepe of the Geneva Observatory and the Swiss group reported that he and his colleagues could find no reliable sign of a fifth planet in Gliese 581's habitable zone. They used only their own observations, but they expanded their published data set from what the U.S. group included in its analysis to a length of 6.5 years and 180 measurements. "We do not see any evidence for a fifth planet ... as announced by Vogt et al.," Pepe wrote Science in an e-mail from the meeting. On the other hand, "we can't prove there is no fifth planet." No one yet has the required precision in their observations to prove the absence of such a small exoplanet, he notes.

Astronomer Paul Butler, a member of the U.S. team who is at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished. He notes, however, that more observations will likely be needed to solidify the existence of Gliese 581g. "I would expect that on the time scale of a year or two this should be settled."
So, perhaps before we declare it 100% likely to have life, we should make sure it actually exists.

Filed Under: astronomy, habitable, planets


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  1. icon
    Will Sizemore (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 12:21pm

    @ Chronno S. Trigger (#3) and Hephaestus (#4): Everyone knows that this planet exploded into YELLOW JELLY, not silly green crystals, and she's gonna be far too ugly for any of us to want anything to do with when she gets here.

    @ Bible Thumpers and Evolutionists: Old Testament and New Testament prove the evolution of humans, Earth itself, faith, and religion. How so? Bible scholars teach that humans didn't eat meat, but now we can/do/need to unless we get our nutritional requirements from sources we didn't have before Adam and Eve committed the first sin. Christians eat pork. Christian men have sex with their wives when she is in her menstrual cycle. The Apostle Paul wrote that all things were lawful, though not expedient, so as long as it doesn't hinder your brother's walk with God, you can do it, understanding that it may still hinder your own walk, and therefore not necessarily a good idea.

    @ John Doe (#8) and Dark Helemt (#20):
    Come on, we all know it was just a Death Star!

    Maybe it was a giant mirror? Maybe it was a hoax? If you've never watched the Big Bang Theory, you might not get the visual I have, but I remember an episode when Leonard, Raj, and Howard taught Sheldon how to pull a prank and the crap that Kripke and Sheldon did to each other was just hilarious.

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