First “Goldilocks” Exoplanet Discovered by NASA-funded Researchers

A team of planet hunters led by astronomers at the University of California (UC), Santa Cruz and the Carnegie Institution of Washington has announced the discovery of a planet orbiting a nearby star, Gliese 581, at a distance that places it squarely in the middle of the star’s “habitable zone.” This would be the most Earth-like exoplanet and the first truly habitable one yet discovered. The research was supported by grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation. “Goldilocks” refers to an exoplanet whose temperatures are “not too cold, not too hot, but just right” to maintain water and support Earth-like life.

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