Existence of 'habitable' world disproved

By Jennifer Pilgrim,

Four years ago, scientists came forward with information on two new possibly habitable planets that float roughly 20 light years from Earth. These new planets, which revolve around a faint dwarf star dubbed Gliese 581, appeared to have the same characteristics as Earth, including a balanced temperature and the possibility of water. Unfortunately, newer, more recent studies reveal that these planets may not exist after all.

With a new technique, two Penn State scientists have determined that physical attributes within the Gliese 581 star have created a possible mirage, debunking the idea that there are habitable planets surrounding it.

"It's bittersweet," stated one of the researchers, Suvrath Mahadevan, in the journal Science on Thursday. "We are pleased the technique works, but on the other hand, we have disproved these two planets. It would have been nice if they had existed."

The planet and its possible existence has been a subject of controversy before, reports The Washington Post. The discovery was reported in the Astrophysical Journal in 2010, and was dubbed Gliese 581G. Throughout the years, a number of scientists have attempted to determine the legitimacy of the study, but it was not until this new technique was used that the planet was still under question.

There still appear to be about three other planets outside the habitable zone of the Gliese system, reports The Huffington Post. For more information on this study, please visit ScienceMag.com.

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