A few weeks ago I posted about a planet orbiting a Red Dwarf star about 20 light years from Earth that had the best potential to harbor life out of all the planets found orbiting other stars to date. The planet was given the name Gliese 581g, named after the star it orbits. It was determined that the planet, about 3 times the size of Earth, sat in the “Goldilocks” zone which is just the right distance from its star to have liquid water.
It now seems that Gliese 581g may not exist at all. In order for scientists to determine if planets exist around distant stars, they use a technique that looks at the wobble of the star, caused by other bodies pulling on it. In the case of a single planet system, the wobble is very uniform and easy to interpret. However, in the case of multiple bodies, the wobble becomes extremely complicated and can easily be misinterpreted. This is what seems to have happened with our “Goldilocks” planet. After careful recalculations, it seems that what scientists originally interpreted as a 5th planet around the small Red Dwarf doesn’t actually exist.
So it seems that, yet again, we must continue to look for life on other planets. I have no doubt that life exists on other planets and do so in abundance. I’m not saying intelligent life is common but simple life forms, I firmly believe, is the rule rather than the exception. Space is so vast and the distances so great, that we have difficulty finding it though.