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article imageNearby planet has atmosphere very similar to Earth

By Walter McDaniel     Jun 30, 2014 in Science
A new planet may be our best evidence yet that habitable worlds exist near Earth. New findings show that a "super-Earth" may be our ticket to the colonization of this galaxy.
An international team of astronomers led by Robert A. Wittenmyer claim to have discovered the best evidence yet for other habitable planets nearby. The report is written up on the PHL site, a publication from the University of Puerto Rico. According to their observations the world Gliese 832c has a similar environment to that of the Earth.
Gliese 832c is significantly larger than our Earth but receives a similar amount of stellar radiation. Out of the planets on the Earth Similarity Index it is ranked in the top three. More importantly it is the closest planet to us that could be habitable without specialized gear or structures. It is only sixteen light years away from us according to estimates. This world would also support large amounts of life since the planet has a mass bigger than that of five earths.
There is one risk factor due to the sheer size of this "super-earth" as some are calling it. The habitat could be too hot to support life since it may have a very dense atmosphere. This might be useful for scientific study but would not lead to colonization. As you can see in one of the attached pictures researchers must also determine if their orbit is capable of supporting life as well so further studies are needed.
We do not have to find life there in order for this to be interesting for the scientific community. It opens up the possibility of colonization on another planet in the far future. If a team could make it the sheer mass of the planet could greatly help our attempts at spreading through the universe. They would not even have to make a return trip if Gliese 832c can support life.
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