Above a calm, dark ocean, a huge, bloated red sun rises in the sky – a full ten times the size of our Sun as seen from Earth. Small waves lap at a sandy shore and on the beach, something stirs…
This is the scene – or may be the scene – on what is possibly the most extraordinary world to have been discovered by astronomers: the first truly Earth-like planet to have been found outside our Solar System.
The discovery was announced today by a team of European astronomers, using a telescope in La Silla in the Chilean Andes.
The Earth-like planet that could be covered in oceans and may support life is 20.5 light years away, and has the right temperature to allow liquid water on its surface.
This remarkable discovery appears to confirm the suspicions of most astronomers that the universe is swarming with Earth-like worlds.
We don’t yet know much about this planet, but scientists believe that it may be the best candidate so far for supporting extraterrestrial life.
The new planet, which orbits a small, red star called Gliese 581, is about one-and-a-half times the diameter of the Earth.
It probably has a substantial atmosphere and may be covered with large amounts of water – necessary for life to evolve – and, most importantly, temperatures are very similar to those on our world.
Probably. May be. Similar to. Not evidence. Everybody take a deep breath.