An international team of scientists has for the first time detected an extra-solar planetary system, including an earth-type habitable planet situated at only 20.5 light years away from our planet, the French National Scientific Research Center (CNRS), whose scientists contributed to the discovery, said on Wednesday.
Situated around the Gl581 red-dwarf star, this "super Earth" is the lightest of the 200 extra-solar planetary systems known today.
It is also the first to possess, at the same time, a solid or liquid surface and a temperature close to that of the Earth, says CNRS, adding that these common attributes with our planet tends to suggest the possibility of existence of extra-terrestrial life.
According to CNRS, researchers working in three French laboratories associated with CNRS, from Geneva Observatory and
from Lisbon Astronomy Center, used the new generation HARPS spectrograph, equipped with a ESO 3.6 meter-diameter telescope, to carry out their observations in La Silla, in Chile.
Four out of the five known red-dwarf planets, whose mass is 20 times less compared with that of the Earth, were discovered by the same team of scientists from France, Switzerland and Portugal, while using the HARPS spectrograph.
This discovery is going to be published in the Astronomy & Astrophysics magazine.