Astronomers from UCSC using the Keck observatory in Hawaii have announced the discovery of a planet in another solar system that orbits in the Goldilocks Zone of its star. The star Gliese 581 was previously known to have five planets but this new one could be hospitable to life “We had planets on both sides of the habitable zone – one too hot and one too cold – and now we have one in the middle that’s just right,” said Dr Vogt, quoted by the BBC.
However life there may not be easy. The rotation is believed to be locked to the star so that only a small region in the perpetual twilight zone is likely to be suitable for life. Anything living there would have to be careful not to stray into the hot zone facing the Sun or the cold zone in eternal shadow. There may also be problems brought on by the planet’s gravity. It is four times more massive than Earth, so assuming the same density it might have 50% stronger gravity at the surface. That could mean a heavier atmosphere. Nevertheless there is a small chance that the atmosphere and everything else is also just right and there is a possibility for life to evolve and survive there.