New, Life-Sustaining Planet May Not Exist

Gliese 581g found only in minute, possibly incorrect measurements
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2010 1:04 PM CDT
New, Life-Sustaining Planet May Not Exist
An artist's impression of a planet circling Gliese 581.   (AP Photo/ European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere)

US-based researchers may have gotten a tad carried away when they announced the discovery of a new, potentially life-sustaining planet a couple weeks back. Yesterday, a team of Switzerland-based astronomers said their own observations of star Gliese 581g didn’t back up the American team at all. “We do not see any evidence for a fifth planet,” astronomer Francesco Pepe told ScienceNow.

The team also said that, if they were forced to draw a conclusion from their data, they would get a negative signal, which implies that the planet isn’t there, not that they just haven’t been able to find it, notes Steinn Sigurðsson on his blog. Meanwhile, a member of the US team admits that more data is necessary to confirm Gliese 581g’s existence. “I would expect that on the time scale of a year or two, this should be settled.” (Read more Gliese 581g stories.)

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